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ON DANGEROUS GROUND, 

A NOVEL. 



BY 



EDITH STEWAET DEEWRY, 

AUTHOR OF "a DEATH RING," " SWORN FOES," "BAPTISED 
WITH A CURSE," " TWO FLOWERS," ETC., ETC. 



JN THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL. III. 



LONDON: F. V. WHITE & CO., 
31 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 



188 3. 
[All Rights reserved.] 



F. V. WHITE & CO.'S 
SELECT NOVELS. 

Crown Zvo^ clothy 3^. dd. each. 



The following Volumes of the Sefies are now ready :— 
MY SISTER THE ACTRESS. By Florence Marryat. 

' " My Sister the Actress " is the best novel we have had the pleasure of 
reading from the pen of Miss Marryat.' — yo/m Btdl. 

THE DEAN'S WIFE. By Mrs Eiloart. 

' Any reader who wants a good story thoroughly well told cannot do better 
than read " The Dean's Wife." '—John Bull. 

A BROKEN BLOSSOM. By Florence Marryat. 

' A really charming story, full of delicate pathos and quiet humour ; 
pleasant to read and pleasant to remember.' — yokn Bull. 

TWO MEN AND A MAID. By Harriett Jay. 

'Compared with the former works of the authoress of " The Queen of 
Connaught," this novel must be pronounced second to none.' — Graphic. 

SWEETHEART AND WIFE. By Lady Constance 
Howard. 

' The story fi'om first to last is attractive, and cannot fail to command 
wide iayonv. '—IVkite/iall Review. 

PHYLLIDA. By Florence Marryat. 

"' Phyllida" is a novel of which the autW may be justly proud.'— 
Morning Post. 

BARBARA'S WARNINa. By the Author of ' Recom- 
mended to Mercy.' 



COLSTON and son, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 



^^ CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAOS 
MY SISTER, MY SWEET SISTER, . . .1 

CHAPTER II. 

AN UNWELCOME MEETING, . . .8 

CHAPTER III. 

READING BETWEEN THE LINES, . . .BO 

CHAPTER IV. 

PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF, . . .33 

CHAPTER Y. 

TROUBLED WATERS, . . . .46 

CHAPTER YI. 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END, . . .65 

CHAPTER YIl. 
CHANDos Neville's favourite flower, . .73 

CHAPTER YIII. 

GABRIELLE MAKES A BOLD MOVE, . . .85 

CHAPTER IX. 

TARQUIn's LESSON STILL STANDS, . . .100 



iv Contents, 

CHAPTER X. 

A FAITHFUL FRIEND, . . . . 115 

CHAPTER XI. 

DROPPING THE MASK A LITTLE, . . 128 

CHAPTER XII. 

DEEPER AND DEEPER THE BLACK SHADOWS FALL, 136 

CHAPTER XIII. 

A GULF AT HIS FEET, .... 150 

CHAPTER XIV. 

AFTER THE STORM; A THREATENING SKY STILL, 168 

CHAPTER XV. 

DARK HOURS, . . . . .177 

CHAPTER XVI. 
Neville's dream is fulfilled, . . 186 

CHAPTER XVII. 

DOOMED, . . . . .197 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

AFTER THE FIRE, . . . .212 

CHAPTER XIX. 

AWAY ABROAD, .... 227 

CHAPTER XX. 

THE TALES OF OUR TRAVELLERS ARE FINISHED 

AT LAST, . . - . 235 



OK DANGEROUS GROUND. 




CHAPTER I. 

MY SISTER, MY SWEET SISTER. 

it is all over, the roses and 
the thorns, the pleasure and the 
pain. Over ! Is it all over ? 
If some of the roses are fadeless, are the 
thorns dead ? If the pleasure still lives 
through the days that follow, is the pain 
gone from beating, aching hearts ? I trow 
not so soon. Rose Neville, with the 
quiet, tender insight of her tender, loving, 
woman's heart, could have pointed to two 

VOL. III. A 



2 My Sister^ My Sweet Sister. 

at least within that stately Hall into whose 
souls the thorns had struck too deep to be 
rooted out ; she could have touched her own 
brother one evening as he paced to and fro 
the room with slow step and sombre brow, 
and said, " The thorns and the rose grow 
together there." 

" I wish you had been at home this after- 
noon, my dear," she said, presently; "for I 
had two such charming visitors." 

Chandos paused by her, dropping his 
hand with a caressing action on her 
shoulder. 

'* Who was that, dear Eose sans Spines f" 

" Two ladies on horseback, attended by 
Marston — guess — " 

" Mrs Albany ! " 

" Yes, on Hassan ; and who else ? " 

"I don't know, Eose. Did they dis- 
mount ? " 

" Oh yes, and had a chat ; took this in in 
a two hours' ride. Well, the other lady was 
Hyacinth Lee." 



My Sister, My Szveet Sister, 3 

Neville dropped his hand abruptly. 

" Hyacinth Lee here, sister Rose ! " 

" Certainly, my dear ; and disappointed 
because you were out." 

His cheek flushed, his hazel eyes sparkled 
for a moment, then both the flush and the 
light died out. 

" It was kind of her to say so, Eose ; but 
she — I am glad I was out." 

Rose was not like Gabriel] e Albany, she 
was no Jesuit — she was not subtle, she 
could not fence or go very far round to gain 
an object near her heart. She could be 
silent or speak straight to reach that object, 
and now she lifted those clear, tender, brown 
eyes to his face. 

" Chandos, Chandos, you cannot deceive 
me ! My dear, do you think I do not know 
your heart ? " 

Neville swung round sharply, walked to 
the end of the room, came back, and stopped 
before her. 

" I suppose you do, Rose. You know, 



4 My Sister, My Sweet Sister. 

then, what a mad fool I am to love one I 
may never, never, even try to win." 

" Never ! Why not Chandos ? " very 
quietly, very composedly asked. " You 
cannot think, believe Lady Glen-Luna's 
fancy, and Lady Constance's secret hopes 
well founded, that Hyacinth cares for 
Douglas ; or, still more, that he is any 
one's rival there " — her face saddened — " his 
life, I fear, is laid at very different feet, poor 
hearts ! Why, then, can you never even 
try to win the heart which won yours ? " 

" Why not ? " The haughty blood dyed 
his very brow now. '' Because, Eose, if that 
were all fancy — and I fear for his sake and 
Gabrielle's that you are right — between us 
there stands a mountain of gold. I am 
what I am, and Hyacinth Lee is an heiress." 

" Well, my dear, she is still a woman, 
with a woman's heart to be won," said 
Sister Rose, looking up with her sweet, 
gentle smile. 

"Rose, am I turned craven — without 



My Sister, My Sweet Sister, 5 

pride or honour ? Do you think I, Chandos 
Neville, .would give the world, and, still 
more, Hyacinth herself, the chance, the 
right, to deem me seeking her for her gold ? 
Never." 

The touch that rarely failed to soothe 
passion or pain was laid on his arm now. 

"'Physician heal thyself,' you, so wise 
for others, be a Jittle wise for yourself 
You have seen her constantly now for 
weeks, and you cannot but see that she 
likes your society. I know nothing of her 
heart or feelings, and therefore I am betray- 
ing no confidences ; but Hyacinth, though 
not a woman of the world like Gabrielle, is 
still four-and-twenty, has lived in society 
the object of attention since she was eighteen, 
and she is no woman if she cannot tell when 
a man is attracted by her herself, however 
he may veil his heart from other's gaze, and 
I think that if Hyacinth Lee had judged you 
a man who could sink to be a fortune- 
hunter, she would have found means, as a 



6 My Sister, My Sweet Sister, 

woman can, to let you feel yourself un- 
welcome, as she has of others." 

" Eose, oh Eose ! don't tempt me ! don't 
fight against my honour, darling sister, in 
your love for me ! " he said hoarsely. 

" Hush, dearest, I do not ; when did you 
ever know my love blind ? I would not 
have a mistaken sense of honour blind those 
you love for one worthy of even you, that 
is all, Chandos. You have no right, re- 
member, to wreck your life and hers, if she 
has learned to care for you, for a mistaken 
pride and fancied honour. If she learns to 
love you she will read you right ; nay, I 
know she does that already, and for what 
the world may say, why a Neville would 
never be coward enough to forsake a woman 
for what the world might say." 

*' Never ; but still, still, Eose, Eose," he 
locked his sister's hands in his own now, " I 
cannot bring myself to do it! to try even. 
1 dare not hope ! If I could leave this place 
I would, but I cannot till Douglas is able to 



My Sister, My Szveet Sister. 7 

be moved. No, I must fight the battle out 
here." 

"Go on simply as you have done 
hitherto," said gentle, judicious Eose, 
quietly leaving the seed she had sown to 
take root and grow, *' let all else rest now, 
and forgive Sister Rose her lecture." 

** Forgive!" Chandos folded her in his 
arms close. "It is I who need your for- 
giveness every hour. God bless thee for 
ever, Sister Rose ! " 




CHAPTER 11. 



AN UNWELCOME MEETING. 



^l^pHERE had been a driving party 
that morning, and in the after- 
noon most of the guests had re- 
mained indoors playing billiards, or other- 
wise amusing themselves. Hyacinth Lee, 
however, had by chance met Mrs Albany 
in one of the corridors, and learned that 
she was going out riding for a couple of 
hours, and to call on Miss Neville. Mr 
Grlen-Luna had insisted on her not remain- 
ing in the whole of such a lovely afternoon. 
Hyacinth looked so wistful that Gabrielle 
smiled and asked her to join her, if the 



An Unwelcome Meeting, 9 

others would spare her such a cliarmante 
companion." 

" I shall slip off," cried Hyacinth, as she 
ran off, " and just tell mamma that I am 
out with you." 

Thus it was that Sister Rose's quiet after- 
noon was enlivened by the two visitors of 
whom she had told her brother. 

They had taken The Cedars on the home- 
ward route, and it was near five when they 
remounted. Just, however, as they had 
almost reached the park gates, Hyacintii 
suddenly drew rein with a blank face. 

" There ! What a stupid, heedless memory 
I've got ! " she exclaimed ; and Hassan, 
checked too by his rider, pawed the ground 
impatiently, " I promised mamma I would 
match her embroidery silks in Doring ; I 
know the shades. Haven't we time to go 
back ? I must get them for her, Mrs 
Albany." 

"It is easily managed," said Gabrielle, 
smiling, *' I must ride on, because I have 



lo An Unwelcome Meeting, 

left Mr Glen-Luna so long, and, besides, 
we dine earlier to-day ; but you can easily 
ride back with Marston, of course, and buy 
your silks — a long job, I know." 

" But, no, no, to let you ride back alone." 

Gabrielle laughed, with something of a 
ring of bitterness through the amused sur- 
prise. 

" Not ride alone ! Why not ? The con- 
ventionalities, if that is what you mean, 
trouble me not a bit. I am too Bohemian 
for that, and I have ridden alone where I 
tell you I should have been thankful for 
such a guardian as Angus here ; so turn 
back, and be quite easy about me. Mar- 
ston ! " 

"Yes, madam." Marston came up to his 
mistress to receive her order, and the two 
fair equestrians parted company ; Hyacinth 
turned back towards Doring, attended by 
the groom, who secretly wondered what his 
master would say if the Arab took to be 
*'skeery," and Gabrielle Albany, followed 



A 71 U7iwclco7ne Mee tins'. 1 1 



<b 



by Angus, rode through the gates and struck 
across the rich soft turf of the park at an 
easy canter, the beautiful Arab lifting his 
delicate hoofs with the dainty dancing step 
of the true denizen of the desert ; but when 
she had got to a thicket of trees about half 
way between the lodge and the Hall, Hassan's 
rider made the discovery that one of the 
saddle girths was loose. Many ladies would 
have been somewhat at a non flus at such 
a discovery, but Gabrielle in a moment had 
drawn rein, dismounted, and, with the bridfe 
over her arm, proceeded to tighten the girth 
ao-ain, the Arab turning; his head to see what 
she was about, and Angus, for dogs are very 
curious, watching her with the most in- 
quiring expression. 

"There, Hassan, it's all right now," she 
said, caressing the beautiful animal, and 
still holding the bridle, ** stand still while I 
mount." 

But before she could put her foot in the 
stirrup for the spring the dog suddenly gave 



12 An Unwelcome Meetino'. 



<t> 



a growl, there was the crash of footsteps 
over the fallen leaves, and a tall man's figure 
stood before her — her husband. 

If for one moment the blood almost left 
her lips, it was not from physical fear ; the 
dog was at her side ; if she receded a step 
and shrank back closer to the Arab with a 
look of intense horror, it was from exactly 
the same feeling that the sudden presence of 
some loathsome reptile would have given her. 
For that second there was dead stillness, and 
then Albany broke it, — 

" Well met," he said, with that sneer 
which came most readily to his lips, " I had 
hardly looked for such luck when I strayed 
this way ; you are so very attentive to 
your — " 

** What you have to say " — she inter- 
rupted him so sternly, that even his bold 
eyes quailed a moment — " say quickly, and 
without insult ; if, indeed, such foul lips as 
yours can address the wife whose honour 
you would have sold, without insult. Basta ! 



An Unwelcome Meeting. 13 

I care not for your frown or oath. Shall I 
tell you what you would say ? " 

" Gabrielle ! " 

Without moving from her attitude of 
superb and graceful repose, that seemed to 
scorn even the attempt to shun him, with- 
out once dropping her steady gaze, she took 
him up there. 

" You would sound how far I am cogni- 
sant of the progress of your admirable 
matrimonial scheme, how far I may be held 
under the sword of Damocles ; you fancy 
perhaps, that there may, must, be in me 
some spark of the sentiment which you 
imagine wifehood itself must feel at seeing 
another put where she had been ; but, 
whether you planned or built upon the 
existence of such a sentiment matters not, 
it is equally a chimera. For that there 
must at least be some remnant of a sense 
of moral obligation left, and I have none, 
for you, yourself long ago snapped asunder 
the very last frail thread of that ; perhaps 



14 An Unwelcome Meeting, 

even there must be some memory of having 
once loved, and I, never — " 

" Hold ! " Leicester broke in, passion and 
vanity stung to the quick. " When that 
evening, which you cannot forget, I held you 
to my breast, you loved me then, child scarce 
sixteen though you were." 

'' Never, Leicester Albany, and you know 
it ; I never loved you, child or woman, 
maiden or wedded wife, in all the seven 
years I lived with you, from the cursed 
hour in which, maddened by cruel injustice, 
I fled with you, to the day I fled from 
you ! 

" Do you think I don't know what all 
this means," said Leicester, with a fierce 
sneer, " when you are mounted on his own 
horse ; his very dog follows you as himself, 
and his servants treat you as their mis- 
tress ! Death. Do you think I am 
blind ? '' 

The taunt was so cowardly, the insult so 
unmanly, that it missed its point ; this was 



An Unwelcome Meeting. \^ 

a thing far beneath the passion of indigna- 
tion, below even contempt, its venom must 
simply be drawn as the snake-charmer cuts 
out the poison of the reptile he masters. 

" You are true still to yourself, Leicester 
Albany, but one more such word as that and 
I will at once claim Sir Arthur s protection 
against the insult of his guest, Mr Clifford 
Brandon ; even such a poor infatuated fool 
as the girl you have entrapped would break, 
I fancy, with a lover guilty of such gross 
breach of hospitality, even if her jealousy 
were not roused." 

" You dare not," said Leicester, furiously. 
" You dare not do it — " 

" I warn you," she said, with a flash in 
her dark eyes that he knew of old, " not to 
drive me too far. Dare not is a word my 
category of language does not know ; dare 
all is, as you will learn to your cost, if you 
drive me to turn to bay." 

There was a minute's pause. In her 
armour of steel there was one vulnerable 



1 6 An Umvelconie Meeting. 

point, if her deadly enemy had known how 
to reach it — the safety of the man she loved, 
the very secret of that love itself. That her 
husband's worst jealousy fancied this she 
saw, and that to guard against an attack 
from which her very heart of woman shrank, 
ay, and for the very end for which she 
played, she must act out a fear of him, feign 
a dread of the powerful threat he held over 
her, which had no real existence in her. 
She must let him believe that he had 
forced her from her vow to foil him — 
that she was obliged to allow his scheme 
to culminate in a marriage with Jessie 
Glen-Luna. 

She broke that pause, moving her right 
hand to the pommel as if about to 
mount, but otherwise with no change of 
attitude, and with none of look, or tone, 
or manner. 

" When we met that night in the park 
there was a threat on your part, worthy of 
your base nature, under which a certain 



An Unwelcome Meeting. ly 

tacit truce was entered into between us, and 
an armed neutrality understood. The key- 
note of that truce was that we were to meet 
as strangers, — that you should go your way 
and I mine. I have kept to that bargain, 
but you, in this hour, have broken it, and 
again I warn you against so doing. You 
vowed that if I betray your true name you 
will swear I was your mistress, and from 
that I shrank ; but, remember this, that if 
ever you drive me to that, if ever you suc- 
ceed in so dragging me down at last, by 
the heaven above, I will not fall alone ! " 

Albany fell back a pace with something 
of absolute fear and awe in his gaze ; the 
woman was sublime in her declaration of 
vengeance, magnificent in her splendid 
scorn. 

She tightened her grasp on the pommel, 
put her foot in the stirrup, and before Albany 
could move, was in the saddle. 

" Gabrielle !— " 

The word came almost under his breath 

VOL. III. B 



1 8 An Unwelcome Meeting, 

as he made one step forward, but she reined 
back the mettlesome Arab. 

" Stand back, and remember my warn- 
ing." The next moment horse, rider, and 
dog were gone, and Leicester Albany stood 
alone in the wood. 



\#>€S 



l^afei.fja 



CHAPTER III. 



READING BETWEEN THE LINES. 




EFT alone on the ground for 
which he was playing so dark 
and desperate a game, Leicester 
Albany stood watching the rapidly retreat- 
ing form of that graceful rider with a very 
maelstrom of mad, contending passions 
within, through which there struggled a 
vague uneasy sense, rather than feeling, 
that, despite the power he held over her, 
she would somehow in the end be master. 
The thirst for the gold, which alone could 
minister to his vices, fury, jealousy, passion, 
hatred, all and at once had possession of the 
man like a pack of demons, a flash up of 



20 Reading betzveen the Lines, 

tlie^ old passion aroused by her superb 
beauty, side by side with a fierce hatred, 
deepened by fear, of the woman who, calmly 
— like a rock — unmoved alike by threats 
or bribe of freedom, stood an immovable 
obstacle to the safe consummation of his 
schemes, deliberately disavowing any moral 
obligation ; the remotest remnant of even 
wifely sentiment, or any tie whatsoever 
except the one indissoluble chain which 
legally held them both. She was just his 
wife enough to prevent him, as she had said, 
" wrecking another life," but she had 
wrenched from him the very last legal right 
of husband which he once had possessed. 
It is an integral and one of the most 
repulsive parts of such a character as this, 
to covet most that which it has not, plays 
with it when gained only as long as it has 
novelty, toss it aside, and then, when lost 
irremediably, and gathered up by other 
hands, want it back again with tenfold 
force. So now was it in some degree, 



Readinor beiiveen the Lines, 2 r 



despite his fancy for pretty, witching 
Jessie. He had been madly in love with 
Gabrielle, and he had cared for her more 
deeply and far longer than he ever had 
for any one before or since ; indeed, she had, 
in fact, never to the last entirely lost her 
sway over him. There are some rare women 
who, not by any will or effort of their 
own, but simply because they cannot help 
it, never entirely lose a hold once yielded 
them ; and Gabrielle was one of these. 
How he had treated her we have seen, but 
her beauty came fresh again, after two years' 
absence, since, too, he had lost her, and 
another cared for her, ay, surely must love 
her, and she him ; and the mere thought, 
the bare possibility, fired the debased 
nature with jealousy and that gleam of the 
former passion which linked itself to his 
hate and fear of her scornful master spirit. 
If she had never loved him — and the 
truth of that stung him more than all — she 
had never, in all those miserable yeara 



2 2 Readino- betivee^i the Lines. 



-^ 



loved any other ; those he flung her 
amongst could not touch such a heart of 
gold ; but Douglas, the man felt instinc- 
tively, was quite of another mould ; he was 
of Gabrielle's world just as much as he 
himself was not, and never had been ; and 
Leicester Albany muttered a fierce oath to 
himself as he left the wooding, warned by 
the lengthening shadows that he should 
return to the Hall. His mind was made up 
to two things : to speak quickly to Jessie's 
mother and know how far the ground was 
dangerous, and how far safe ; and to sound 
and find out if certain suspicions of his 
about that lady's motive in placing Mrs 
Albany about her stepson were correct, for 
he had understood from Jessie that the 
proposition had come from her mother, and 
Lady Glen-Luna's great show of affection 
for Douglas had not entirely deceived him, 
though he by no means fathomed her yet. 
For Gabrielle she was no match, but for 
Leicester she was, though a certain subtle. 



Reading between the Lines. 23 

nameless affinity of evil quickly made them 
gravitate towards each other. 

As he neared the lawn — for he had 
skirted round to that side — he saw the very 
person he was thinking of seated on a 
rustic bench under a spreading tree. 
Hearing a step, she looked up. 

" You, Mr Brandon ! " she exclaimed, 
giving him her hand. "Where do you 
come from ? " 

" Shall I say from going to and fro in 
the world ? " asked Albany, seating himself 
at her side. 

" Oh, fie ! — that was M. le Diable, you 
know," laughed Adeline ; and Leicester 
bit his lip ; he had probably a very hazy 
remembrance whether the phrase was to 
be found in the Bible or Shakespeare or 
one of the " Society " papers. He laughed, 
too, of course. 

"So it is. I strolled out and wandered 
on. By the way, I met Mrs Albany, too, 
mounted on that splendid Arab." 



24 Reading between the Lines. 

*' Hassan, Yes; dear Douglas likes her 
to ride his horse. But where was Miss Lee, 
for they rode out together ? " 

" Indeed ! Well, certainly, Mrs Albany 
was quite alone, unless you can call that 
dog, Angus, a companion." 

" Horrid brute ! " said her ladyship. 
*' They call it one, and talk of it as if it were 
a human being. Was she riding home ? 
She never leaves Douglas long alone." 

" Oh, yes ; she said he would be expect- 



ing her.' 



"Dear boy !" purred Adeline. "I am so 
glad the bright idea occurred to me of getting 
him a lady for a secretary and attendant. 
And you see how very lucky w^as my choice ; 
if we could have had some one made for the 
position, we could hardly have done better." 

" No ? " — a little query artfully thrown 
into the tone of the monosyllable. " But, 
pardon me, dear Lady Glen-Luna, you have 
honoured me with so much of your friend- 
ship — " He stopped. 



Reading between the Lines. 25 

" Go on, Mr Brandon, please. I count 
you indeed a friend — you saved my child's 
life. Please go on." 

" Dear Lady Glen-Luna, I was only going 
to ask if it was quite a wise step ; for which 
of us," with a half sigh, *' can answer for 
our heart ? " 

She glanced sharply, furtively at him, 
and said, tapping her foot on the grass, — 

" Of course — that is too true ; but you 
see something had to be done, and he could 
not endure any one too old or plain or un- 
educated about him, on the one hand ; nor, 
on the other, was it a position which just 
any one of the ordinary stamp would take 
or keep. Of course, a young single lady 
was not possible, and widows are ten times 
worse. I did the best I could by getting a 
married woman who is separated from her 
husband, and one Bohemian enough not to 
care for any idle gossip or chatter of town 
or country. Beyond that — why, really, Mr 
Brandon, it is impossible to foresee or guard 



26 Reading between the Lines. 

against every contingency, isn't it ? Oh, I 
think my boy's heart is safe enough, and 
Mrs Albany's, too. Only," she added, look- 
ing down with a sigh, " if he does care for 
her, or should, I fear that he would never 
marry at all, even if" — a little choke here 
— " if he lives, which — which — " 
. She covered her face, but Albany had 
learned what he wanted to know — her 
motive in placing a being so attractive as 
his wife about the heir of Glen-Luna. Like 
a flash the evil nature read the kindred 
evil, his wit filling the gap ; there had, he 
thought, been some j^articular marriage 
which she had feared, perhaps that very 
Hyacinth Lee, who flirted in a kind of 
manner alike with himself and Douglas or Dr 
Neville. Her acting did not deceive him now, 
though he had sometimes before this been 
puzzled as to whether the "affection" was 
absolutely all false. Bah ! of course ; what 
a fool he was ; did not Douglas's life stand 
between her daughter and an inheritance. 



Reading between the Lines. 2 J 

how could she do ought but hate him and 
wish him dead, and chafe that he lingered 
on so, with not much apparent intention 
either of dying yet ? 

" Dear Lady Glen-Luna," he said, gently 
drawing her hands into his own, " do not 
grieve so — try to hope he may be spared ! 
Heaven ! What should I feel who am the 
cause, however innocently, of this terrible 
wreck, if it ends fatally ! " 

" Sometimes," she whispered with a half 
sob, "it comes over me so terribly — please 
forgive my stupid weakness — and I try to 
hope he is better, and then, when I ask Dr 
Neville, he looks grave and strange, [and 
won't say much " — sobbing a little more 
now, — " and only this morning he was so 
tired just with that drive that dear Mrs 
Albany was quite anxious, and would not 
let him move again to-day." 

How " dear Mrs Albany " would have 
laughed if the Dryads in the wood behind 
could have repeated those words to her ; 



28 Readino- between the Lines. 



'<b 



how she would have shrugged her shoulders 
and said again, ^^ Popidus vult decipi, de- 
cipiatury 

" Is there, then, in grave earnest, so 
little hope 1 " said Albany, after a pause. 
'' Douglas does not look to me to be ill ; 
you must not meet an evil so half w^ay, 
dearest Lady Glen-Luna, and alarm your- 
self, perhaps, after all, needlessly. Indeed, 
I cannot bear to see yon so distressed." 

" You are very kind to say so — " 

" Kind to you, the mother of — " Albany 
stopped as if he had said too much, " pardon 
me, I never meant to startle you — to be so 
abrupt," he added, as she looked up quickly, 
^' but I only watched for an opportunity to 
speak to you as a gentleman and a man 
of honour should. You must have guessed, 
seen, that I love your daughter Jessie." 

'' I know it," said Adeline, in a low 
voice. 

"Ay, twenty years older than her 
though I am, I have dared to love her ! 



Reading between the Lines. 29 

How could mortal man help it ! And oh. 
Lady Glen-Luna, blame me if you will, for 
I deserve it, but my love has carried me 
beyond myself — I confessed all to her the 
night of the ball." 

" I guessed that, too, Mr Brandon," said 
Adeline — her thin, fair hands were twisting 
her chain restlessly — " I guessed that." 

"And did not banish me?" he said, 
eagerly clasping her hand. "You do not, 
then — will not — refuse me when I tell you 
that her heart is mine ; you will not kee'p 
me in suspense ; you all know what I am, 
who I am ! I need hardly say that all I 
have is in your hands, that all her father 
could ask I will do for my darling — 1 may 
call her so ? — and, though I have no title, 
no great rank or position, to offer one so 
well fitted for both, I have ancient lineage 
and a fortune to lay at her feet, which is not 
unworthy of a Glen-Luna's daughter. 

This, for which Lady Glen -Luna had 
invited him there, was at her feet. She 



30 Reading between the Lines. 

turned and looked liim full in the face with 
those now glittering, serpent eyes of hers, 
gazed at him steadily, to be met by gaze as 
unflinching, as keen ; if there is a rapport 
between the loyal and brave, so is there also 
between the base and wicked ; if there is a 
fraternity of the pure in heart, so also is 
there a brotherhood of Cain ; and in that 
intense, in that long, deep look, each of 
those two read the other, if not to the full, 
at least enough to know that each might 
spt the first step on the dangerous ground 
between them and meet half way with 
clasped hands. The woman felt that her 
thought days ago was not at fault ; that 
here she had found the instrument she 
coveted ; the man knew that she had one 
hope, one end, for which she would willingly 
make her daughter the price. 

*' Clifford Brandon," she said, then, drop- 
ping her eyes with a smile, " there is no 
one to whom I would sooner give Jessie 
than the man who saved her precious life. 



Reading between the Lines. 31 

Who weds lier does so for herself alone, for 
she will brinp; to her husband little of for- 
tune save her own heart as long as her dear 
brother is spared, and that, Heaven knows, 
we hope will be long — long — " 

The last words fell slowly, sadly, as if the 
mere thought of his death was pain. She 
added in another tone as she rose, — 

" But at present let the matter rest be- 
tween us three. I had rather, for reasons I 
will tell you another time, that neither Sir 
Arthur nor Douglas know of this yet." 

** One thing, dear Lady Glen-Luna, you 
fear opposition," exclaimed Albany, quickly. 

" I hardly know yet, Clifford. I must 
think ; it is time if need be to speak before 
you leave. Bah ! you impatient lover," she 
added, playfully, *' you will have enough of 
your ' ladye fayre,' wont you ? " 

" With such a friend at court as you are, 
yes," he answered, kissing her hand, and 
then placing it on his arm, " and you will 
speak to Jessie ? " 



32 Reading between the Lines, 

" Yes, Ah, there ! that is the dressing- 
bell." 

And they quickened their steps as a gong 
sounded from the hall. 

Was this a brotherhood of Cain ? 




CHAPTEK IV. 



PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF. 




>N the very centre of a rotatory 
storm there is, as seamen well 
know, practically a dead calm," 
in which they can see the tempest raging 
around, whilst themselves actually be- 
calmed. So it is, for a time at any rate, 
with some lives. 

Was something of such a comparison 
perhaps in Douglas Glen-Luna's thoughts 
that afternoon as he lay on his sofa, quite 
alone, the book laid aside or dropped from 
the hand; the eyes so drooped under the 
long heavy lashes, that a casual glance 
might have thought he slept, only that, 
VOL. III. c 



34 Physician heal Thyself. 

motionless as was the graceful form, still 
as were the chiselled features, there was 
not in one line of the face the merest 
shadow of that repose, that restfulness, 
which nearly always belongs to sleep, and 
lends to it such beauty ? 

Was he now, had he ever been, blind to 
the elements raging around him, to the 
warfare of which he was the centre ? No, 
not from the first, not for one instant ; but 
knowing all — as Gabrielle had said to Har- 
ford — he gave no sign. 

Not over tired, however, as Adeline be- 
lieved — not alone either the whole time, 
as Gabrielle thought ; for, as he lay utterly 
wrapped in bitter, most painful thought, 
the door opened quietly, and Chandos 
Neville came in, catching at once, in the 
moment he entered, the whole expression 
of that attitude and face. He did not 
mistake stillness for sleep or repose, and 
took note of the start there was at the 
sound of his voice. 



Physician heal Thyself. 35 

" What ! all alone, mon cherf Where is 
Mrs Alban}- ? " 

" I made her go out for a couple of hours' 
ride," returned Douglas, as he clasped the 
physician's hand. 

"Hum," said Neville, "and I find you 
buried in the very realms of Hades ; I 
shall scold Mrs Albany." 

" Scold Gabrielle ! No, no, Neville ! 
Please don't say a word to her, I'm all 
right ; only I was a fool, and found myself 
in Hades before I knew it ; don't tell 
her." 

" I expect she'll find out for herself, my 
dear boy. Where is she gone, or with 
whom ? A party of them, I suppose — " 

" No, only with Angus and Hyacinth 
Lee ; they took to each other from the 
first, those two ; indeed, I think that 
Hyacinth thinks there is nothing feminine 
like Gabrielle. They may perhaps call at 
your digging." 

*' At the Cedars !" said Chandos quickly. 



36 Physician heal Thyself. 

with a sudden flush, and then a look of 
pain which did not escape his friend, *' my 
roof will be, indeed, honoured. Look here, 
Glen-Luna, your book has fallen." 

He stooped to pick it up, and in so 
doing a sheet of paper slipped out from 
between the leaves ; not a blank sheet, for 
in restoring it Neville caught sight of 
an exquisite, winsome face, which was all 
in all to him, and the blood flushed sud- 
denly over his brow. 

" Thanks," said Douglas, quietly receiving 
it, and holding it lightly in his fingers, " I 
sketched it this afternoon from memory. 
Look again. Like her, isn't it ? " 

Why had he sketched this face of all 
others? Why had he so naturally called 
her Hyacinth ? Had Adeline's cruel scheme 
come too late, after all, and was this why — 
why — ? 

In that moment the eyes of the two men 
met, and there was dead stillness. 

Then Glen-Luna said, very softly, with 



Physician heal Thyself. 37 

that sweet tenderness that had so much of 
the woman in it, — 

"Your fear, your thought, just sprung 
into life, dear Chandos, may die as quickly. 
It is not Hyacinth — I am not any man's 
rival — I never shall be now." 

" Douglas ! " 

"Ay, it is not to be, that is all," he 
said, in the same quiet way, " but for you 
the path is open. Dear Chandos, I knew 
that you loved her, and I could not wish 
either of you greater happiness." 

"Hush. Oh, hush, Douglas." Neville 
covered his face for a minute, and his 
mellow voice was hoarse — " it is not for 
me ! What would she herself think of me ? 
how, why, should she deem me different to 
others who have sought the heiress of Lee's- 
Folly ? — not Hyacinth Lee." 

*' Why should she ? " repeated Glen-Luna. 
" Because she is a woman, with a woman's 
heart." 

" You try to tempt me. Would you, 



38 Physician heal Thyself, 

proudest of proud men, in my place so stoop 
your crest for the world — the girl herself 
— to deem you mercenary, to be rejected 
with scorn ! It would be base dishonour to 
try and win her. I ask again, would you 
doit?" 

" I'll tell you when the case arises," said 
Douglas, coolly, leaning back, " meanwhile 
I will try and prove the truth of Bulwer's 
aphorism that ' policy is the art of being 
wise for oneself; politics the art of being 
wise for others.' The first I apply just now 
by silence ; I am in exactly the opposite 
position to you, as poor Lady Constance has 
tried long ago, and still, I fancy, would give 
anything if Hyacinth and I would fall in 
love. For the second part of the aphorism, 
I will try to be wise for you — " 

"Don't, don't Douglas! What is the 
use ? I ca?inot~-will not." 

Glen-Luna lifted himself on one arm, his 
whole face, so mobile, so expressive, chang- 
ing to yet more intense earnestness. 



Physician heal Thyself. 39 

'^ You are starting from the very outset, 
Chandos, on a false basis ; a total under- 
valuing and misunderstanding of your posi- 
tion and Miss Lee's. She is an heiress with 
some six thousand a-year, certainly ; and if 
you were quite a young beginner in your 
profession, with no fortune at all, or only 
a few hundreds, I grant you the question 
would be widely different. But you are 
five-and-thirty ; you have made a good 
position — won a reputation to which each 
day or month adds, both in fame and In- 
come, and it is no blindness of friendship — 
no idle prophecy — to say that you will 
certainly as years go on take a position that 
will rank you with the first of your profes- 
sion. This case of mine alone, if it is suc- 
cessful — as in God's mercy we hope it will 
be — will at once give you a step on the 
ladder of fame. Hear me out. Hear me 
out. You have private means which alone 
would place you beyond a wife's fortune ; 
you told me so yourself. Don't you, won't 



40 Physician heal Thyself. 

you see that there is not the wide gap 
between your position and Hyacinth's as 
there would be, perhaps, I grant you, if she 
were a rich peer's heiress, or even such an 
heiress as Jessie will be at my death ? I 
am speaking simply as a man of the world, 
and, as you say, as a proud man, and from 
that standpoint I say you have every right 
to try and win the woman you love, whether 
Lady Constance likes it or not. Hyacinth 
is not eighteen, but four-and-twenty, and as 
independent as she should be. The moral 
point of the matter I leave to your dear 
sister Rose, for there she is far more certain 
to go straight to the right point than you 
or I ; women always do, and she in parti- 
cular ; though I might perhaps suggest the 
possibility that the ' winning ' is done 
already." 

" Douglas ! no, no," Neville started, and 
dropped his hand, " God forgive me ! I hope 
not ! " 

" I only suggest a possibility, Chandos ; 



Physician heal Thyself. 41 

men and women, after all, are still all human 
together, and women are often won unawares 
as much as men, only we show it and they 
cannot. The heart is heart whether of Adam 
or Eve. Whether or not that is so, whether 
you have the right for pride's sake to 
break her heart let your own or darling 
Eose decide. Chandos, forgive me if I have 
said too much for even friendship's sake ; 
but you know I am such a spoiled fellgw 
that I believe I think I may say anything." 

Neville grasped both those slender hands 
in his own. 

"You may, indeed," he said hoarsely, 
" dear Douglas, dear old fellow ! how can I 
value enough such a friend as you are % I 
will think over all you have said, and if I 
can — " 

" ^A, arretez vous la mon brave / " ex- 
claimed Glen-Luna, " I hate ' ifs ' and will 
have none of them just now." 

" Well, well ; " Neville was smiling now ; 
" since you have turned physician, and I 



42 Physician heal Thyself. 

patient, I suppose I must obey and leave 
the 'if to itself. Now, I must go, but 
don't you get back into Hades. Will Mrs 
Albany be long now ? " 

Glen-Luna glanced at his watch. 

" She should be back now ; she is sure 
not to be very long." 

He was right, for even as he spoke the 
door was pushed open by Angus, who 
bounded in, leaping first on his master, 
then on Chandos, and the next minute 
Gabrielle followed ; her usually colourless 
cheeks flushed a little, her eyes very bright, 
almost glittering, as Douglas noticed to 
himself. 

" How do you do, Dr Neville ? Not 
going are you ? And how good to take 
my deserted post." 

" You have been riding too hard, Gab- 
rielle," said Douglas, " or has Hassan 
been — you don't look quite yourself, does 
she, Chandos ? " 

" Bah ! mon ami, your fancy," she 



Physician heal Thyself. 43 

answered, patting his head. " I've ridden 
at speed across the park, because I was 
late, that is all." 

All ! was it ? He looked at her one 
second, and dropped his eyes. 

Neville held out his hand to her, — 

" Good-bye, then ; I am off. Good-bye, 
Douglas." 

And he went out ; while Gabrielle, saying 
she would not be long, crossed to her room 
to dress for dinner, just as Harford entered 
to attend to his master. * 

Just about the same time Hyacinth 
reached the Hall, and ran off straight to 
her mother's room to deliver the silks before 
she dressed. 

" There dear, aren't they just the 
thing ? " said she. " I forgot them, so 
Gabrielle — Mrs Albany, you know — rode 
on with Angus, and I went back with 
Marston." 

Lady Constance looked over the bright 
silks. 



44 Physician heal Thyself, 

" Good child ! they're quite right. Where 
did you ride to ? " 

" Oh, I hardly know ! right up to the 
lock ; and Mrs Albany, to show me Hassan's 
surefootedness, crossed and re-crossed on 
the lock-gates without dismounting, and 
there's only a rail on one side." 

" I am afraid that Mrs Albany is rather 
fast," said Lady Constance. 

" Poor dear mammy ! what a joke ! there 
was no one but myself and the old lock man 
to see her. Then we rode back through 
Doring, and called in on sweet Miss Neville " 
(mamma frowned), " only the doctor was 
out" (mamma cleared up again); *'but," 
added Miss Hyacinth, saucily, "I met him 
just now in the park as he drove home, and 
had quite a chat ; jolly, wasn't it ? " 

Poor Lady Constance ! round she swung, — 

" I think. Hyacinth, that the way you 
flirt with Dr Neville is quite beyond bounds, 
and will make you the talk of the place." 

"Oh, no, mamma! * they've' got Mrs 



Physician heal Thyself. 45 

Albany to cut up, and Jessie and Clifford 
Brandon to gossip over — " 

** And now Miss Lee to link with a 
country doctor," added Lady Constance. 

Hyacinth fired up. 

** He is a London physician of eminence, 
mamma, as you know, and a man of the 
highest character, and," relapsing into her 
same saucy way again, "the only fellow 
here worth flirting with, except Douglas. 
I like him immensely. Ta, ta, I must 
dress." 

And then she ran off to her own room, 
locked the door, and, throwing herself on 
the bed, burst into a passion of tears. Poor 
little Hyacinth. 



CHAPTER V. 



TEOUBLED WATERS. 




ISS NEVILLE, Madam." 
" Show her in here, James." 
Mrs Albany was in her own 
sitting-room, and turned at once to meet 
her ever welcome visitor. 

" Dear sister Eose ! How good of you to 
come up this afternoon. I had just come 
in to look for a book of mine which Mr 
Douglas will like when he has finished 
what he is reading now. Give me your 
bonnet," taking it off as she spoke, and 
kissing again the sweet, fair face ; " but 
you look — shall I say vexed, sister Rose ? 



Troubled Waters. 47 

— as if something had roused your indig- 
nation." 

" You are too keen, my dear ; some- 
thing has roused it thoroughly, then, 
and I think it is time, really, that Lady 
Glen-Luna took some notice of it, as she 
alone can." 

" Of what, sister Rose ? What is the 
matter ? " 

How the poor heart, always on the qui 
vive for something painful, throbbed as she 
spoke. 

" My dear," said Miss Neville, more dis- 
turbed than ever Gabrielle had yet seen her, 
" I am more disgusted than I can express 
with the wicked, cruel gossip and scandal 
about you. I do not think that some of 
those women ever talk anything else but 
scandal of their neighbours. You smile, 
child ; you think that is severe for me to 
say ; but, as I walked up here just now, 
Mrs Winstanley and Mrs Chattaway were 
before me in the Doring high road, and 



48 Troubled Waters, 

I could hear every word they said in the 
clear air." 

" Dear sister Kose, please don't think or 
fret yourself about those silly, idle gossips ; 
I do not care one bit." 

" You would, then, Gabrielle, if you knew 
the worst they say — if you heard them just 
now." 

" No more than they have said before, I 
dare say," Gabrielle said gently. 

" Yes, it is." Kose Neville's indignation 
was not to be soothed ; her own nature so 
recoiled from such base defamation of one of 
their own sex. " But you ought to know, 
because, if it goes on, it may make your 
position here untenable." 

" Sister Kose, nothing can do ;that save 
Douglas Glen-Luna's own dismissal," said 
Gabrielle, steadily. "Tell me what they 
said, then, if you like; only I think I 
know." 

"Did you know, then, my dear, that I 
heard them say — not as an on dit or a 



Troubled Waters, 49 

possibility — but as an absolute fact, that 
you were never even married at all ; that 
you and Mr Glen-Luna were abroad to- 
gether long before his accident, and that 
your coming here was an arranged plan 
between you % " 

Was this all ? They had not said the 
truth, but, thank God, so wide, so very 
wide of it, that the relief was intense ! 
She laughed slightly — a scornful laugh — 
and began pacing to and fro. 

"It is too absurd, too petty and con- 
temptible, Sister Rose, to be worth notice 
or thought, or certainly the troubling of 
your dear, tender heart. To you it is 
terrible ; it would crush you, perhaps ; you 
could not "face the man with whom scandal 
linked you so shamefully ; and of me, you 
perhaps think — " 

" I think, my dear," said Miss Neville 
firmly, " that Lad}^ Glen-Luna is a very 
wicked woman, and had no right, for her 
own evil ends, to put a young and beautiful 

VOL. III. D 



50 Troubled Waters. 

woman in such a position. That is what I 
think, child." 

The blood flushed to Gabrielle's brow, 
then rushed back on her wild, beating- 
heart, with almost suffocating force ! Did 
Rose guess how cruelly successful that end 
had been ? 

She stopped her restless walk, then, 
before Miss Neville — pressing her hands on 
her breast. 

'•' Yes, I know that, Sister Eose, few 
women w^ould take the place I hold, or be 
indifferent to all they say and gossip ; but 
I do not care ; 1 have borne too much of 
the heavy sea to care for the spray and 
froth. Great Heaven ! " she said, with such 
a sudden, passionate force in every tone, 
e^•ery line, as startled Sister Eose, " I have 
lived such a life with my husband as no 
man of common honour would subject a 
mistress to if she were faithful to him. 
You are good, Eose, and had a happy home, 
and those who loved you : you would never 



Troubled Waters. 51 

have done as I have done ; never bet n 
tempted as I have been ! You deem me 
reckless, very Bohemian, perhaps callous, 
even shameless, because I will not give 111 
one jot to this scandal about myself and 
Douglas Glen-Luna ; but I am neither, 
though it is only by God's mercy that I ani 
not lost to all womanhood. I am reckless, 
I know that, and what wonder ? I never 
had one better or happy influence. I never 
had a home from the hoar I was sent ^n 
orphan of six years old from my mother's 
land of Italy." 

" My poor child ! Oh, my poor heart ! " 
said Eose ; her eyes were full, her loving 
hands outstretched, but the fierce tide had 
for once swept over the dykes and swept 
on ! Gabrielle shrank back. 

" You are so good and pure yourself that 
I dare to let you see the dark phases of a 
life of which you never even dreamed ; 01 
such a wild, passionate, undisciplined being 
as I am and was — though you shrank in 



UBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF iLUNOIS 



52 Troubled Waters. 

incredulous horror from the glimpse you 
caught in that outline report you read. 
Look you, Eose, I had no one even to warn 
me. I was sent to a distant relative who 
had the school, and beyond being taught I 
was utterly neglected, or rather only re- 
membered to be treated with cruelty, harsh- 
ness, attempted repressions ; the school was 
a horrible prison-house to such a wild, high 
untamed spirit as mine ; it could not break 
me, as it would some, or kill me, but it 
made me a mad, desperate, reckless thing, 
and when the . first temptation came, under 
the guise of love, and care, and escape, 1 
met it." 

She walked to the end of the room once 
more, back, to and fro several times, and 
stopped again, locking and unlocking the 
slender hands with a passionate restlessness 
that spoke a volume of agony in itself. 

" Your exquisite sympathy unlocks a 
floodgate which shows you a mass of wild 
seething waters that almost frighten you — 



Troubled Waters. 53 

a world of shame and misery so foreign to 
anything you have seen or heard of that it 
may well appal you." 

"A world that would have killed me," 
said Eose, under her breath. 

" I know that ; it would have crushed 
most — killed some. I don't know how I 
bore it so long, only that I grew reckless 
and desperate on one side, and on the other, 
I tell you. Rose, I was afraid of myself. I 
tried so hard through all to do my duty — 
to be loyal to my vows, however terribly 
he broke his ! I had no help, no safeguard, 
so young as I was. I was scarcely sixteen 
when Leicester Albany crossed my path, 
met me as by chance constantly in my 
stolen evening walks ; then they found it 
out somehow — charged me with meeting 
handsome, wild, Leicester Albany, de- 
signedly ; dared to lock me in my room ! 
That maddened me ; it was the last thread 
snapped. I escaped out of the window into 
the garden — over the wall — out into the 



54 T^'otibled Waters. 

bitter winter night — and there he was. 
Well, my fate was sealed that miserable 
night ; he told me how he loved me — and 
he did, as such men's ' love ' goes, as long 
as it lasted — he arranged our flight, and 
three mornings later, quite early, in the 
cold and darkness, that was surely a type 
of my future, I, child, of just sixteen, fled 
with the roue. We drove straight to 
London— to the church, and by half-past 
eight, before even I could be missed, I was 
Albany's wife." 

Rose drew a breath of intense relief. 

"Thank God!" escaped her. "I had 
somehow almost feared that you were going 
to tell me that he had deceived you after 
all with a false marriage." 

'' No," said Gabrielle, so sternly, with 
such a gleam in her dark eyes as made 
gentle Rose shiver. "He knew me too 
well to dare even to try that, for I should 
have killed him in the hour I knew it. 
Then he took me abroad." 



Troubled Waters. 55 

" But you did not love him, Gabrielle ? " 
"Love ! No, never ! He was handsome, 
winning. He was the only one who had 
been kind to me or cared for me for years 
— gave me freedom — the world. I liked 
him, clung to him as the drowning clings 
to the hand that saves ; I was even fond of 
him, as we are to one who sets wide prison 
doors ; and if he had been different to what 
he was — what he showed himself so soon 
to be — God knows I would have done all 
my duty, and learned to love him. I sifp- 
pose I ought to then " — with bitter scorn — 
" if hearts can be won by all that gold and 
a man's passion can give — and his lasted 
in full sway quite two years. I was car- 
essed, petted, envied. Ye Gods ! Envied 
by the women, adored by the men ; queen 
wherever he took me, — Hung into his 
world's vortex from the hour almost that 
made me his wife." 

She stopped again for a minute, then 
went on. 



56 Troubled Waters. 

" When you read the outline of the story, 
Sister Eose, you could not believe, cannot 
now realise, a man making his own wife 
the bait and attraction to his gaming salons 
— for his were nothing less — and the more 
his fortune went, the more Bohemian and 
adventurer he became. Then passion sated 
— died out, — save for a few flashes at 
times ; he was tired of his handsome play- 
thing, and tossed it about more carelessly 
than ever — or rather as time went on — 
more deliberately, for he wanted to be rid 
of it to any one who would take it." 

" Gabrielle ! How horrible ! Dear child ! 
Was the man a devil ? " Eose broke out. 

" I thought so then, I think so still ! " 
the other answered, resuming her walk. 
" The child was born when I had been 
nearly four years married, but it was deli- 
cate, aod it only lived a few months. I 
told him I was glad, because God had 
spared me such an awful duty." 
' " Oh, Gabrielle ! " 



Troubled Waters. 57 

" Yes, I was," she said, with a kind of 
fierce agony in her large, dry eyes. '* It 
was one night in Monaco, it died in my 
arms, on my breast ; and he — my husband^ 
its father, came in, straight up from the 
salon de jeu below, with a pack of cards in 
his hand. Then I said it, and I meant it, 
because I was its heartbroken mother, and 
loved it ! God ! how I loved it ! for it 
was all I had, but I gave it gladly back to 
Paradise. 

" It was better so for its own sake," safd 
Rose softly ; " and for yours, too, darling, 
for it spared you an awful sin." 

Gabrielle's breast heaved, and she stopped 
abruptly again before Miss Neville. 

" Would it have been such a sin, Rose, to 
save it from growing up to be like its father ? 
Well, well, perhaps you are right. I have 
sin enough on my head, for in the misery 
of my life of wrongs I was maddened, and 
utterly reckless sometimes, and tempted — 
oh ! how cruelly tempted — to take some 



58 Troubled Waters, 

desperate step. Once — Eose — pure, 
good Rose, still pity me if you shrink from 
the sin, I was so nearly, so terribly tempted 
to fly from him ! not because I loved the 
man, though I liked him, for he was better 
than all the rest, and really loved me — ay, 
if I had been free he would have offered only 
marriage. This was in the States, and was 
in truth the beo^innino: of this end. Leicester 
was jealous of him, because he knew I liked 
him. He had given me a beautiful red 
setter, which was always with me, but could 
not bear my husband or his friend — the 
dastard I shot. Well, one night Leicester 
came in and saw me caressing my favourite, 
and swore that he would kill it. I dared 
him to touch the dog, and Rose ! Rose ! the 
next minute he drew a pistol, and shot the 
animal at my feet." 

The woman was choking ; she was going 
through the whole scene again ; and Rose 
covered her eyes. 

" It was well for him," said Gabrielle 



Ti'oubled Watei^s. 59 

after that pause, '' that he got out of my 
way the moment the dastard deed was done, 
for I — let it pass ! it is one of my blackest 
counts against him. It was that evening, 
an hour later, the other — the dog's master 
— came in and found out about the dog. I 
was mad, I think, Eose, and when, for the 
first time, he forgot all but my wrongs and 
misery, I almost — almost fled with him ; 
blame me, despise me if you will, Rose, I 
deserve it, but before Heaven I can swear 
that it was not because then, even in my 
heart, I was false to my vow of fidelity, but 
simply because I was mad with agony and 
my wrongs, and knew not what I did ; and 
then, even in the minute I set foot to cross 
the threshold, I saw the horror of what I 
was doing — and turned back." 

" My darling child ! my brave, noble 
heart ! strong then in temptation after all, 
by God's help." 

" Yes, that is it, dear Rose. I am not 
strong, not now," the words fell brokenly 



6o Troubled Waters. 

" You know what the end was, till I fled 
away alone because I was no more safe. 
Eose, do you wonder now why I care so 
little for these village scandals ? I have 
been stabbed so deeply that mere flesh 
wounds cannot scathe me. Why should I 
care ? The only beings I value will not be- 
lieve it of me — you, and your brother, and 
— and Douglas Glen-Luna." She could not 
control the falter, the blood that tinged her 
dark cheek, and Eose looked up to meet 
her eyes, and suddenly drew Gabrielle to 
her. 

" My poor child ! Oh, my poor child ! 
I knew it must be ! " 

Sweet Eose ! Just that one touch of 
womanly love and sympathy broke down 
the woman's natural barrier. Gabrielle was 
kneeling at her feet, her face buried in her 
lap. 

" Eose ! Eose ! how can I help it ! 
how can I help it, when he is so helpless, 
and his very life is in my hands 



» " 



Troubled Watei^s. 6i 

Such a wild, passionate burst of grief as, 
perhaps, Eose had never yet witnessed, and 
would scarcely realise yet. She could only 
clasp the quivering form closer, soothing by 
loving touch alone, at first, till presently the 
smothered sobs grew less, crushed partly by 
the strong habit of control and self-suppres- 
sion ; no need for words, Eose felt — knew 
— that with the whole force of her impas- 
sioned nature, the whole depth and strength 
of her woman's heart, Gabrielle Albany loved 
Douglas Glen-Luna once and for ever ; that 
for him she could endure more than ever she 
had yet borne — all, all but dishonour itself ; 
a love in itself so pure and loyal that it could 
not lower her — wife though she was — from 
her own high moral stand-point, even in 
her own eyes, much less in his, if he should 
read her secret. How true her brother's 
words had been, came now upon Eose with 
tenfold force. 

" It is all darkness, and misery, and 
shame," the rich, pathetic voice came after 



62 Troubled Waters. 

that long silence, " for, though every moral 
obligation is broken — every tie snapped, 
long ago — ay, more than you dream of 
even now, Eose — still I am wedded wife to 
Leicester Albany, and yet — yet — God knows 
I have struggled so hard all these awful 
years of torture and temptation to be loyal 
at least to my own honour — my marriage 
vow. I have reddened this right hand in 
blood to save it ; I have fought now such a 
fierce battle against this last subtle temp- 
tation that mastered my very heart of 
woman before even I knew it — and I am 
vanquished at last, Eose. It is too late — 
too late — God help me ! I love Douglas 
Glen-Luna — I — another man's wife ! " 

Sister Eose's white hands were laid ten- 
derly on that bowed, stricken head ; Sister 
Eose's dear, loving lips, breathed the simple, 
grand prayer of old, as she bent down, — 
" Lord, lay not this sin to her charge." 
And then there was a long, intense 
silence. 



Troubled Waters. 63 

But, as the incense ascends from God's 
Altar, so shall the prayer of the righteous 
ascend to the Great White Throne, and be 
heard ; for we know that " the smoking 
flax will He not quench, and the bruised 
reed will He not break." 
. Then, at last, Gabrielle lifted her face, so 
deathly white, but oh, how beautiful ! and 
kissed Eose Neville as one might kiss some 
holy saint of old ; then rose up. 

"Sister, indeed, saint below; if I had 
but known you in my childhood, I had 
never stood here now — what I am, wronged, 
broken-hearted, fallen." 

" Hush, hush, Gabrielle ! My dear, I 
will not hear you. It is not true — no, it 
is not, or I would not tell you so ; you are 
not fallen, even in thought or heart ; for 
you have fought, not yielded, to the sin." 

" Have I not ? " said the other, sadly ; " I 
have fought, truly, and been vanquished. 
I have yielded ; I am beaten back ; I have 
ceased to fight." 



64 Troubled Waters. 

" You have not, child, not as long as 
you feel such agony and shame, not so 
long as the very love itself is pure and 
loyal in itself." 

" Eose, my St Eose, you have lightened 
my burden of guilt for me." 

" Not I, my child," said Eose gently— 
and pointed upwards. 




CHAPTER VL 



THE BEGINNING OF THE END. 




ET SO wonderful was this woman's 
control over self, so great her 
power of, as it were, suppress- 
ing self, that when, a quarter-of-an-hour 
later, they passed into the salon, even 
Douglas's keen glance could only detect 
that the face he loved so well looked weary ; 
and Eose herself could scarcely realise that 
this was the same woman who had so 
recently knelt at her feet in such passionate 
agony. 

" How wicked of Gabrielle to keep you 
all to herself so long, dear Sister Rose ! " 

VOL. III. E 



66 The Beginning of the End, 

said Glen-Luna, as she came to his side, 
" when you know you are my property." 

" Indeed, sir," said a bright voice at the 
door, " I thought my sister was my pro- 
perty," and Chandos Neville walked in 
smiling. 

" How jolly to see you so unexpectedly !" 
exclaimed Douglas ; " what good luck 
brought you, most notable son of ^scula- 
pius?" 

" He came to see me," said Mrs Albany ; 
" didn't you, Dr Neville ? " 

" You rather look as if you wanted some 
looking after," said he, lightly, but with a 
keen glance. " However, at the risk of 
being rude, I must tell the truth — if you, 
fair Jesuit, ever admit that necessity — I got 
home just now, learned that Eose was up 
here, and had the — " 

" Cheek," put in Douglas, gravely. 

" Precisely ; the cheek to know that I 
might come up too." 

" Good boy," said Gabrielle, laughingly. 



The Beginning of the End. 67 

" isn't he, mon ami ? and I hope you have 
no tiresome patients to take you away, for 
neither of you are going yet." 

" Not," added Douglas, " till after dinner 
and a long evening. I'm not going down ; 
they must get along without me ; you will 
stop ? " 

" If Mrs Albany will excuse my morning 
dress." 

" Mrs Albany will excuse anything if you 
will only stay ; and you are the very person 
I was wishing to see ; I want to speak to 
you a few words, so, if we may be excused 
a few minutes, just come with me." 

" They're going to hatch some dark plot !" 
said Douglas, tragically pointing, as the 
physician rose and followed Gabrielle to 
her own sitting-room. She shut the door 
carefully and turned to him. 

"You guess, of course," she said, "that 
it is about our charge I wish to speak ? " 

" Yes, Mrs Albany." 

** I want you to tell me, if you can, how 



68 The Beginning of the End. 

far he lias actually gained ; I can see myself 
a marvellous change." 

" There is a marvellous change," said 
Neville, " the gain in him has exceeded my 
utmost hopes." 

For a moment her breast heaved, her lips 
quivered with the joy that flashed through 
her — ^the woman who loved him. 

" Can you yet," she said, "fix in any 
degree a time when he will walk at all ? " 

" I should hardly like to say so much, 
dear Mrs Albany ; I think that he will go on 
up to a certain point apparently slowly, 
and then take, as it were, a sudden step. 
When once he is able to walk a little — even 
across a room — he will gain rapidly. I hope 
to begin that trial in a month or six weeks ; 
1 hope to see him like you or me in six or 
seven months." 

Her hands were locked ; the blood flushed 
to her cheek. 

" Thank God ! then you have no fear of 
failure now, Dr Neville ? " 



The Beginning of the End. 69 

" I should, perhaps, be over-confident to 
say absolutely no fear, but still, broadly 
speaking, I have none. I have steadily 
dislodged the evil, and have never once 
gone back a step — thanks to your aid too, 
and watch against the enemy." 

" It is of that I wanted to speak. At 
present she thinks that he is losing, not 
gaining, but when the time comes for him 
to walk, she will see at once that she has 
been deceived." 

" Well, let her— what then ? " 

" I don't think you quite fathom her as 
I do yet, Dr Neville," said Gabrielle, slowly, 
and laying her hand on his arm, " I have 
never spoken out in plain words yet, but if 
she sees her intended victim is slipping 
away, she will try some quicker, more 
desperate measure, as she did once before. 
You remember the lift ? " 

" Yes," he shuddered ; " but she can 
hardly do anything, watched as he is by 
you and Harford." 



JO The Beginning of the End. 

An anxious look came into her eyes, 
almost a haggard look. 

" It is a terrible thing, Dr Neville, to live 
with such an awful thing as murder in 
the very air we breathe — death to one so 
precious." 

He stood looking at her for a minute. 

" It is awful," he said slowly, " that 
w^oman is a devil." 

" Harford's very words," said Gabrielle ; 
"look you, Dr Neville, you said long ago 
that when he reached a certain point we 
must get him abroad to one of the German 
spas." 

" Well, so I say still ; but 1 hardly 
thought of attempting to move him so far 
till he could walk a little." 

Her face changed. 

" Don't you think he could be moved 
before that — in a few weeks ? " — she said, 
with something of almost passionate eager- 
ness in her manner and large eyes — " got 
out of this horrible atmosphere of danger ? " 



The Beginning of the End. 7 1 

" Good Heaven ! Mrs Albany, do you 
suspect, know of, anything worse ? " said 
Chandos, starting. 

" I know this," she answered, sternly, 
"that she has come across a man in whom 
I think it will be strange if she does not 
find an accomplice. I will not point him 
out until I am more sure, but I think if it 
were possible to remove Douglas it would 
be well." 

" If I think it can be done in a few weeks, 
Mrs Albany, how do you propose its being 
managed ? for your attendance is necessary 
as much as mine." 

" My idea — if you both could, and will — 
would be for you and Sister Kose and my- 
self to go, and, possibly, Sir Arthur ; that 
would be best for the sake of all ; but if he 
cannot, why surely your sister is enough to 
play propriety ; for myself I care nothing." 

"A very good plan, Mrs Albany, but 
your name must be our care, if it is so far 
not yours, as weighed against Douglas's 



72 The Beginning of the End. 

welfare. He would not hear of any scheme 
that could harm you. Well, I will think 
over it, and we will talk about it again. It 
all depends on how he gets on. We must 
run no risk." 

" God forbid ! — sooner tell Sir Arthur all," 
Gabrielle said under her breath ; " thank 
you, Dr Neville, that is all I could ask." 

And then they returned to the other 
room. 




CHAPTER VII. 



CHANDOS NEVILLE S FAVOURITE FLOWER. 




HERE are you going, Hyacinth ?" 
said Lady Constance one morn- 
ing, meeting her daughter in 
the hall, with her broad-brimmed hat on, "I 
thought you were going driving with the 
rest of us." 

Mamma Lee's tone was uneasy. She was 
much like a hen with a duckling. 

" I am not going with them, mammy 
mine. My dear, beautiful Mrs Albany told 
me I might come with her and Mr Glen- 
Luna ; and of course her invitation is his." 

Lady Constance's brow cleared ; and the 
saucy girl added, — 



74 Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower. 

" He and I are such capital friends, he is 
such a dear fellow. Ta-ta, they're waiting 
for me, I dare say, by the west wing." 

And away she danced. 

Mrs Albany was slowly pushing the 
elegant chair across the lawn when Hya- 
cinth caught sight of them, and her tongue 
began at once. 

" It's so awfully good of you to let me 
come with you both. Where are you going ? " 

" I think down to our favourite nook 
near the river, " answered Gabrielle ; " what 
say you, mon ami f " 

" My dear, yours and Miss Lee's pleasure 
is mine," was the instant reply ; "by the 
way, Gabrielle, did not Harford say he 
thouQ-ht he would have time to ride over 
to see his sister, Mrs Be van, while we were 
out here ? " 

" Yes ; the poor thing does not get on 
very fast ; low fever is a tiresome, linger- 
ing thing." 

" Who is attending her ? " asked Hyacinth. 



Chandos A^evilles Favourite Flower. 75 

** Oh, Dr Neville, of course, " said Douglas 
— in fact, he had sent him himself, as 
Hyacinth guessed. She walked on in 
silence, thinking, thinking — of him, and 
wishing — little goose — that she had not got 
— six thousand a-year. Then she chattered 
gaily again ; and when they stopped at the 
same little nook in which Chandos had once 
found them she declared she could not sit 
still just yet. 

** I'll go and try to find a lot of wild 
flowers and ferns ; do you admire ferns, Mr 
Glen-Luna ? " 

*'I admire anything in your fair hands, 
Miss Lee." 

" What a humbug you are ; isn't he, 
Gabrielle ? " 

" My dear, w^e can't get along in the world 
without humbug," said Mrs Albany, amused- 

"Oh fie ! you are as bad as he is. I 
know you both hold shocking sentiments, " 
laughed Hyacinth. "I should like to put 
you in the fabled chair of truth." 



76 Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower, 

" The most detestable, horrible idea ever 
devised for torture," said Douglas, with 
wicked viciousness ; ''I could not wish 
worse to my bitterest enemy." 

** Hear, hear ! " added Mrs Albany, '' who 
could stand such a test ? " 

" Well, no one, I suppose. Now I'm off. 
Are you coming, Angus, or have your master 
and mistress greater attractions than a race ?'' 

Angus got up, wagged his tail, put his 
handsome head on one side as if he were 
weighing the matter, looked up at his 
master, and whined softly. 

" Poor Angus, your loving, canine heart is 
torn ; well, go and take care of her, boy ; 
she is not going far off." 

And Angus bounded off after Hyacinth Lee. 

She knew where to look for ferns, and 
made for the wood about half-a-mile off, 
where she soon filled her hands with the 
delicate, feathery-looking leaves. 

" There, Angus, " she said at length, 
" we'll rest — or I shall — on this huge tree- 



Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower, "jy 

bough for a few minutes before we return 
to your master," suiting the action to the 
word, and perfectly unaware what an ex- 
quisite picture she made sitting there, with 
the rich background of green foliage and 
red-brown tints on the trees — " what's the 
matter, Angus ? " 

The collie had pricked up his ears at 
the sound he caught — a light footstep 
amongst the fallen leaves ; and he 
jumped up to meet the intruder, who- 
ever he was. 

" Why you, Angus ; not alone then, 
surely, old fellow ? " 

A voice that made the blood rush over 
the girl's cheek and brow, and her heart 
beat wildly with such a tumult of feelings 
that she could not even move. The next 
moment the tall form of Chandos Neville 
came out. 

"Miss Lee ! you alone, out here ! " 

Do what she would, the hand he clasped 
for one moment would tremble, and the 



J^ Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower. 

colour come and go in her fair, soft face, as 
he sat down at her side. 

" I came out with Mr Glen-Luna and 
Mrs Albany," she said ; " were you going 
up to see them, Dr Neville ? " 

" I was, but I thought I would go round 
by the dell to see if they were there." 

" They are there ; I came to look for 
ferns, and see what a lot I have got ; aren't 
they lovely, Dr Neville ? " 

" Very ; but still, the loveliest fern does 
not compare to a flower." 

" That is true, especially," she added, 
looking up for a moment with a smile, 
" with what I suppose is your favourite 
flower, since you have such a rare specimen 
at your house." 

" Have I, Miss Lee ? what is that ? " 

" You know quite well," said she, with a 
bad attempt at her usual pretty, saucy ease 
of manner, — " a rose, of course." 

How sweet was the smile that lighted up 
his hazel eyes; but he answered quietly, and 



Chandos Nevilles Favourite Flower. 79 

not seeming to notice a restless movement 
of hers to go. 

" A most precious rose, indeed — but still, 
your guess is not quite right, I have a still 
greater favourite in the floral world." 

" Have you ? " The blue eyes opened 
wide in real wonder." " You told Mrs 
Albany that roses were your favourites." 

" Did I ? some weeks ago, then. Guess 
if you can — only " — looking down with an 
odd smile, " I warn you it is a very rare 
flower." 

" Something tropic, then — hothouse ? " 

"No, a simple flower, after all — try again." 

" I'm a bad hand at guessing anything, 
Dr Nelville ; you'll have to tell me, I 
suspect," said Hyacinth, with another move- 
ment. 

" May I tell you ? " 

She tried to answer carelessly. 

" Yes, if you like ; what is it, then ? " 

" Only — a — hyacinth." 

A moment's pause, one hurried, fleeting 



8o Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower. 

look, and Hyacinth was clasped passionately 
to her lover s breast. 

" My Hyacinth ! my darling ! can such 
happiness be mine ? " 

Happy, trembling little flower ; how she 
clung to him, almost weeping ; how all 
within and without was one blaze of glori- 
ous sunshine now. 

He spoke presently, drawing her closer 
still. 

" I have been such a coward, darling, I 
have been so afraid, so dreading that you 
would think me base and mercenary. I 
had so little in comparison to lay at your 
feet, save the heart you won so soon." 

" That you made yourself and me miser- 
able, you bad, stupid fellow ! " whispered 
the dear, sweet voice. "How could you? 
you deserve to be punished. I wish the 
horrid gold was all at the bottom of the 
sea. Oh, Chandos ! Chandos ! would you 
really have gone away and left your 
favourite flower for that ? " 



Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower. 8 1 

" No, no ! Hyacinth, dearest heart, for- 
give me that I was coward so long ; you 
can understand, feel how I felt, darling." 

"Yes— quite." 

" And then, Hyacinth, I was puzzled. I 
almost feared once — quite at first — that you 
liked Clifford Brandon." 

" I detest him ! " interrupted Hyacinth 
from her resting-place. " I flirted with 
him to tease Jessie." 

*'Then I thought that there had be^ 
something between you and Douglas." 

" You very ingenious self- tormentor ; he 
and I have had many a laugh in the old 
time about poor mamma's hopes, and the 
stepmother's fear of me, so we squared it 
between us, and have been first-rate friends. 
Try more confessions, Dr Neville," lifting 
her bright face with such a saucy look, that 
Chandos, as any lover would, bent down 
and kissed it. 

" Is not that enough ? It only remains 
for me to ask your mother — " 

VOL. III. F 



82 Chandos Nevilles Favourite Flower. 

Hyacinth broke into a merry, rippling 
laugh. 

" Poor mammy mine ! what will she say 
to a professional man, when she destined 
poor me for a coronet at least ? She will 
make a terrible fuss, and refuse ever to see 
me again if I don't give in, and hold out 
a month or two, perhaps. Poor, dear old 
pet ! her bark is much worse than her 
bite." 

Neville could not help laughing, though, 
man-like, in his secret heart he dreaded 
facing Mamma Lee's fire more than a sixty- 
pound gun. Men always do dread a 
feminine tongue, and no wonder either ; for 
a woman in her temper can sting a man to 
the very quick, and he, as a gentleman, has 
no retort. 

Miss Hyacinth, certainly, never for one 
moment contemplated the least giving in to 
maternal ambition — if that grand word can 
be used to such petty, small aspirings as a 
fine match for one's daughter. 



Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower. 8 



J 



How the time passed neither of them 
could have reckoned ; but Mrs Albany had 
just remarked to Douglas that she won- 
dered where Hyacinth was, when lo ! 
Angus bounded joyously up, and the phy- 
sician and his companion came up. 

It needed but a glance between them, 
from one to the other, and then Hyacinth's 
crimson, happy face was hidden on Gabri- 
elle's shoulder, and the close clasp of the 
two men told more than language. And iji 
the noble heart of the younger man there 
was not one pang, one bitter thought that 
his own heart's story was so dark, so help- 
less, so weighted with misery. 

Douglas was the first to speak, and his 
first words were said with his most wicked 
look. 

"Poor Lady Constance." 

" She cannot hold out long," said Mrs 
Albany, passing her beautiful hand caress- 
ingly over the fair head, still nestling 
against her, as Hyacinth knelt beside her. 



84 Chandos Neville s Favourite Flower. 

' A loving woman finds heaven or hell 
The day she is made a bride.' 

God make yours all paradise." 

Ay, in all the opposite to her own 
miserable marriage — a hell, indeed, such as 
few tread. 



^S5^^ 




CHAPTER VIII. 



GABRIELLE MAKES A BOLD MOVE. 



^"^^HE Saltouns' departure was now 
fixed for the beginning of next 
week, Percy Rosslyn's for a day 
or two later, and Lady Glen-Luna deemed 
it time to speak to Sir Arthur about the 
offer made to her daughter by Clifford 
Brandon. From her husband this woman 
anticipated nothing but ready and delighted 
consent, if only he was assured that '' his 
little witch's " affections were involved, and 
Brandon sufficiently well-off to be a suitable 
parti for his daughter. So far, she had 
reckoned rightly enough, but her ladyship 
was somewhat taken aback, and both vexed 



86 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

and vaguely uneasy when Sir Arthur ended 
his general assent and an eulogium of Clif- 
ford Brandon by saying that before seeing 
him to give formal assent to an engage- 
ment, he would just step up and see what 
his son thought of it. Adeline dared not 
oppose such a reasonable wish, nor did it 
suit her cue to show the least distrust of 
Douglas, the more so because — especially 
since the accident — the old man had been 
more wrapped up in his son, and a great 
part of her own influence had, from the first, 
depended on her feigned affection for this 
only son. 

" Very well, dear," she said sweetly, 
" only remember that if you refuse, it will 
break the poor child's heart." 

That was one afternoon, and Sir Arthur, 
very rightly thinking that no time was 
like the present, went off at once to the west 
wing to see if his son was in — most likely 
so, as the day was dull and cloudy — and, 
as he stepped up the wide, shallow-stepped 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. Sy 

stone staircase to his son's apartments, he 
heard the rich, full tones of the Broadwood 
— under a skilled hand — and, after all, 
what pianos surpass those matchless grands 
with which we are so familiar ? 

At his tap Henselt's exquisite etude 
stopped, and Mrs Albany's voice said, — 
" Come in." 

Douglas was lying on the sofa, his beauti- 
ful head resting on his hand, listening in 
dreamy happiness to the music, and per- 
haps weaving round the pianiste anotner 
dream as visionary as dangerous and hope- 
less. 

" Dear father ! you here ! " he said, with 
a quick flush of pleasure, half starting up. 

"Don't you move, my boy; can you 
spare tne a few minutes ? Don't you go, 
Mrs Albany, but just you take your own 
low chair there." 

She smiled, drew forward a chair for the 
baronet near his son, and obeyed his order 
with a heart that throbbed heavily — a 



88 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

suspicion of his errand had instantly flashed 
across the mind of Albany's wife. 

** There, that's right, my dear ; you're in 
your right place. Why should you go 
either? for I dare swear Douglas has no 
secrets from you now, and I am sure I have 
not. I don't count you a stranger, you 
know, for you quite belong to Douglas 
now." 

"You are very kind. Sir Arthur." 

She leaned back a little, stifling a sigh, 
and Sir Arthur turned to his son. 

" I wanted just to speak to you, Douglas, 
about what I suppose will be no news exactly 
to either of you two, for you must have 
seen it all these weeks." 

" What is that, father ? " 

" Why, that little puss of a sister of 
yours," said the baronet, evidently much 
delighted, "like all the rest — eh, Mrs 
Albany ? — gone and fallen in love. Adeline 
has just been speaking to me about it. 
Clifford Brandon has asked her hand, but 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move, 89 

I would not speak to him till I had seen 
you — as my only sdn should, I think, have 
some voice in his sister's marriage." 

" Thank you, father. I had expected 
it would end in an offer from him," said 
Douglas quietly, but the quick contrac- 
tion of the brow and compression of the lips 
told its tale to the woman at his side, 
though his father read only the quiet tone, 
and read that wrongly. 

"Ah, then, you have no objection. / 
like him very much, and I see no reason 
why I should not accept him ; he's a gentle- 
man of family — a Brandon of shire ; he 

is well off, and offers to make any settlement 
I like." 

Gabrielle set her teeth like a vice. 
Heaven! must she stand by and not denounce 
this villany — must she still suffer and bear, 
and feel herself weighed down with agony ? 
Yes, still, still, for his sake by whom she 
sat, over whom she watched, for whose sake 
her husband — the world — might brand her ; 



90 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

yes, woman's love could face even that. 
But Douglas's lips cul-led, and he lifted 
himself quickly. 

" As to all that, father, you and Adeline 
were, I presume, well assured, before you 
asked Brandon here at all. I have no 
actual objection to make, because I have 
no right to do so without very good tangi- 
ble grounds ; but, if you ask me if I like 
the man, or any such marriage, I can't 
deceive you, father. I do not like him, 
though I suppose no one here, except Gab- 
rielle, guessed or knew that ; he is a guest 
under your roof, voila toutr 

" But, my dear boy ! " exclaimed Sir 
Arthur, aghast, " what have you to say 
against him, except, perhaps, that one 
would have wished a younger suitor ? " 

" Dear father, forgive me ! It grieves 
me to pain you since your and Adeline's 
mind are evidently made up ; but, for my- 
self, be his antecedents and fortune what 
they may, I do not like or trust the man 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 9 1 

himself ; it may be unreasonable, or perhaps 
mistaken, but there it is, and I can't alter 
my feelings, or think the less that he is — 
certainly has been — a roue, however it may 
wound you all to say it. He must not 
expect me to be cordial — only courteous — 
as the lover and husband of Jessie." 

Sir Arthur sat gazing in his son's hand- 
some face for a minute, then from him to 
Mrs Albany, and said, abruptly, — 

" And what do you think of Clifford 
Brandon, Mrs Albany ? " 

She started — flushed — grew deadly pale 
again ; and answered, with a quickness that 
was almost hurried. 

" Pardon me, Sir Arthur, but — in my 
position, I have no right to speak — my 
opinion is nothing ; I am only your son's 
paid attendant." 

" Nein, nein, Gabrielle ! " said Douglas, 
under his breath, '' um meinetwillen /" 

Her hand trembled, the tears came into 
her eyes — " for his sake ! " — what stronger 



92 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

plea could he have used to arrest the words 
that so pained him ? 

''Ach ! — forgive me," she whispered in the 
same language, and turned to Sir Arthur. 

" I should not have answered you so, 
dear Sir Arthur, since you honour me by 
asking my opinion at all ; it goes entirely, 
then, with your son's, and did from the 
first ; a woman's reason you will say." 

" Ha, ha ; I think I must say the same 
of Douglas, too, then," said Sir Arthur, 
laughing, though rather vexed at finding 
his son disagree with him, " it's lucky for 
Brandon that Jessie is of such an opposite 
mind." 

She looked down, biting her lip. Douglas 
asked, as his father rose, — 

" You mean to accept him, then, father ?" 

"Well, my dear boy, you see, I can 
hardly reasonably refuse him." 

" He knows, of course," said Douglas, 
carelessly, "that at my death Jessie is 
heiress of Glen-Luna." 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 93 

" Douglas ! don't speak of your death ! " 
exclaimed his father, " I won't hear it boy ! 
Do you let him talk like that, Mrs 
Albany?" 

" Dear father ! " the young man stretched 
out his hand and clasped his father's, " for- 
give me ! I did not mean that I am worse, 
or likely to die, but only literally what I 
said ; and Brandon may not be as disin- 
terested as you think." 

" I think you misjudge him, indeed, de^r 
boy ; he could hardly, besides, be so stupid 
as to reckon on such a remote contingency 
as—" 

" Remote, father ! with only my one life 
between — " 

" Only one," repeated Sir Arthur, with the 
sharpness that springs from sharp pain, " I 
hope to live to call a wife of yours daughter, 
and hold a son of yours in my old arms." 

** Hush, oh hush ! Oh, father, don't hope 
that ! How can it ever be ? " 

A bitter, passionate cry, wrung forth by 



94 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

the sharp agony of that double stab, only- 
one of which the father read — both of 
which the woman who loved him felt, 
knew too well — yet woman-like his moment 
of weakness was her strength, fiercely as 
the dagger quivered in her own heart ; but 
she spoke no word to him, only laid her 
soft hand on his, as he buried his face in 
the cushions, letting it rest there; her words 
were to his father, — 

" You remember the Martyr King Charles' 
favourite motto, ' Dum spiro, speroJ We 
have been thinking of the possibility of 
getting him abroad to one of the German 
spas ; ah, mon ami, don't start so, nor you, 
dear Sir Arthur, look so alarmed ; it is 
not because he is worse, or we could not 
dream of moving him." 

" Child, then ! tell me the truth ; he is 
better ! Douglas ! " 

" He cannot answer you as I can. Sir 
Arthur," said Grabrielle firmly ; and Douglas 
neither moved nor spoke. " Dr Neville and 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 95 

I think his general strength better ; these 
apartments, too, want doing-up differently ; 
he is weary of the sameness ; and, therefore^ 
if in a few weeks we shall find it possible, 
we shall propose arranging, as I said, a 
journey to Germany, Dr and Miss Neville 
accompanying us." , 

'' My dear girl ! " — the old baronet's voice 
was quite husky — " anything you can wish 
or devise for my dear boy's welfare shall 
be done ; what you wish done must Ije 
right ; you are so clever, so noble, so de- 
voted—" 

" Hush, don't, don't ! " she said hurriedly, 
" I have only tried to do my duty." 

" Tried I Well, well, if it pain you, I 
will say no more ; but Douglas knows better 
than I do how much we owe to you." 

" God knows you are right, father." 

With these words Douglas lifted his face 
once more ; he had not dared till now to 
trust himself, so deep was the wild heart's 
agony, so fierce its self warfare. 



96 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

There was a moment's silence, and Sir 
Arthur rose up to go. Then Gabrielle said 
quietly,— 

"Do not repeat to anyone, Sir Arthur, 
one word about what I have said ; I had 
rather not, until we have settled it more 
certainly. Will you remember ? " 

"Your wish is law, my dear; isn't it, 
Douglas?" 

" It is my law," he answered, with a 
grave smile ; and his father, saying that 
he must see Clifford Brandon, took leave. 

Douglas lay quite silent until the re- 
treating steps had died away, and then he 
touched Mrs Albany. 

" Gabrielle, is this scheme you spoke of 
only a part of your line of action, or a 
reality ? " 

" Both," she said, steadily meeting those 
glowing, deep, dark eyes. 

" You know that I know all ? " 

All ! Although she knew exactly what 
his *'all" comprehended, the mere thought, 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move, 97 

the very form of words, made her shiver 
from head to foot ; and yet what would 
not that miserable woman have given to 
kneel down at his feet and tell him really — 
all — all ; but for his sake she must bear it still 
alone — quite alone. She answered only, — 

''Yes, I know that. You would like to 
go, I know you would, as a prisoner would 
leap at escape." 

" You are right, Gabrielle, but for one 
thing, which compels me for once to inter- 
fere with your plans." 

" What do you mean, mon ami ? " 

"Forgive me, dear Gabrielle, if I must 
wound you — but your honour, your name 
is as precious to me as my own — a thousand 
times more so than my worthless life, or 
even recovery." 

" Hush, for pity's sake ! " She put her 
hand hurriedly on his lips, " you cannot — 
do not — know all the — the danger that is 
in the very air here. My honour ! my 
name ! Good heaven ! it is only under 
VOL. m. G 



98 Gabrielle makes a Bold Move. 

your roof that it has been cared for, pro- 
tected, and neither will be harmed under 
that protection whether here or in Germany ; 
I am married, your attendant, secretary, we 
travel with your physician and his sister — 
a middle-aged woman — if possible, too, we 
intend to get your father to go with us and 
remain a month — " 

" Ah, if that is done, Gabrielle — " 

'* Stay, Mr Douglas ; it cannot, shall not, 
depend on that," she interrupted, more in 
her usual manner ; " you have been so good 
and obedient all through, I cannot hear of 
any disobedience and rebellion now, when 
more than ever meek obedience is necessary. 
Will you promise, and still be my own good 
boy, or must I reserve the battle until Dr 
Neville comes ? " 

He kissed her hand, and laughed a little, 
shaking his head. 

" I will let it rest, dearest of autocrats, 
till the question is actually on the ta'pis. 
Will that do ? " 



Gabrielle makes a Bold Move, 99 

" It must, I suppose ; but remember / 
shall not yield." 

" Go and play me that Henselt etude 
which was interrupted," said Douglas, 
smiling, adding in a pretended aside, " il 
faut reculer pour mieux sauterj' 




CHAPTER IX. 



TARQUIN S LESSON STILL STANDS. 




IR ARTHUR GLEN-LUNA'S in- 
terview with his son and Gab- 
rielle Albany left behind a 
vague, uncomfortable kind of feeling about 
his daughter's suitor, a feeling too vague 
and shadowy for him at any rate, to ana- 
lyse in the remotest degree, but whicb 
resolved itself so far into the somewhat 
vexed words, " I wish Douglas had not 
said what he did ; I had rather fifty times 
that he had liked the marriage and the 
man, and Mrs Albany. Ah, how I wish 
that she were a widow, and Douglas 
would — " 



Tar quins Lesson still Stands, loi 

But there the dressing-bell for dinner 
rang;, and the baronet's train of thought 
was interrupted. 

Still he and his wife liked Clifford Bran- 
don, and Jessie was in love with him; 
and they had allowed the matter to go too 
far to draw back with honour, just for no 
other reason than Douglas's dislike to the 
man; for admittedly no more tangible 
reason could be given. Douglas, of course, 
knew well enough that, regarding her 
dauf^hter, Adeline's influence would pro- 
bably outweigh his objection, and so he 
had tacitly declined a contest in which he 
was almost certain of defeat. That Jessie's 
probable heirship was the man's real motive, 
he felt as sure as the woman at his side,, 
who knew it too well. However deeper 
and further his suspicions went, he never 
even hinted them even to Gabrielle ; she 
might guess, read them ; but he would not 
add one iota to the pain and deadly anxiety 
of hers and Harford's watch ; of hers 



I02 Tarquins Lesson still Stands, 

more than all — his darling, his " first — last 
love." 

So Mr Clifford Brandon was accepted, 
and an engagement with Jessie Glen-Luna 
understood; so far, then, Leicester Albany 
had gained one — if not the most import- 
ant — step in his desperate scheme — he had 
secured the prize, and in penetrating Ade- 
line's secret, gained, as she had, the accom- 
plice he needed as much as she did. No 
actual word — certainly no word that could 
shock the ear of either — had passed their 
lips, and yet each perfectly understood the 
other. The obstacle to the fortune, which 
both coveted, must be swept away ; Jessie's 
hand, so endowed, was the price and reward. 

" Like draws like," it is said, and that 
applies to evil every whit as much as to 
good : two bad natures will gravitate to- 
wards each other as unerringly as two high- 
toned people. 

When that evening, out in the gardens, 
Albany asked her if she and " his darling 



Tar^quin s Lesion still Stands. 103 

Jessie" would ^^ on an early period to 
make him the happiest of men, the little 
dainty lady at his side sighed, glanced off 
towards the west wing, and said sadly, — 

" Indeed, Clifford, I hardly know what to 
say about it until our hopes and fears about 
our dear Douglas are more certain, for good 
or — or bad. Sometimes, of late, I have 
almost hoped that he was really getting 
stronger under Mrs Albany's care, and then 
she is forced to crush one by reporting him 
not so well. If in a few weeks all these 
miserable doubts and fears are decided" — 
she dropped the words slowdy as she bent 
over a rose-bush — " we can make some 
arrangement, you know. There ! provok- 
ing ! Do, Clifford, gather me that topmost 
rose," she added, interrupting herself ; " it 
is faded, and disfigures the tree." 

Leicester Albany smiled as he obeyed — 
such a smile — and, bending low as he gave 
it to her, said, — 

*' Dear Lady Glen-Luna, I am always at 



I04 Tarquins Lesson still Stands. 

your service, even to such a trifle as remov- 
ing a poor faded flower." 

*' Thank you." She looked in his face 
and laughed — her hard, mirthless laugh — 
then threw the rose on the grass, and set 
her foot upon it, with a flash in the cold, 
grey-blue eyes that made them glitter like 
steel. 

Tarquin, when he cut of the heads ofi" the 
tallest poppies, left a lesson, for good or for 
bad, which stands for all time. 

And while one suitor was accepted, an- 
other, under the same roof, was rejected, 
which was only what Neville had expected, 
and it in nowise disturbed his equanimity. 
His mind once made up to a certain end, 
once convinced that that end was right and 
honourable, and he was firm as a rock. 

Lady Constance simply declined " his 
proposal for her daughter's hand ; she had 
other views for her, and they must part ; " 
which, delivered to a man of thirty-five, 
and a woman of four-and-twenty, struck 



Tarquins Lesso7i still Stands. 105 

Chandos as so amusing that he almost 
smiled as he very courteously, but steadily, 
replied that that was impossible. He held 
himself bound, though Hyacinth he con- 
sidered free, but that they would wait a 
few months in the hope of her (Lady Con- 
stance) changing her mind on the subject. 
He was, he said — and this was a part of 
an agreed-upon plan in Gabrielle's game of 
chess — going to Germany with a patient 
shortly, he believed, and might, perhaps, 
be absent six or eight months ; but when- 
ever he returned, he hoped that she would 
rescind her present refusal. At present, 
when they met in the house by chance, it 
would be as friends, so far as others were 
concerned. He declined to give any pro- 
mise not to write to Hyacinth, or see her ; 
on the contrary, he said he should do both 
occasionally. 

With that he withdrew, leaving Lady 
Constance feeling very dumfoundered, and 
with a very uncomfortable sense that she 



io6 Tarquins Lesson still Stands. 

would be beaten. She tried speaking to 
her daughter, but in vain. Miss Hyacinth 
opened her blue eyes, laughed, and clapped 
her hands, declaring that " Chandos was the 
dearest fellow in the world, and had be- 
haved exactly as she knew he would. I 
told you, mamma, that I should marry 
some professional man, and choose for my- 
self; and you won't say no in the end, 
sweetest mammy mine, I know." 

" My dear," said mamma, folding her 
hands, " I cannot sanction a suitor whose 
diflference of fortune — " 

" Now, mamma, not a word, please, dear, 
about the detestable money, or I vow I'll 
make it all over to charities, or Mrs Albany, 
or—" 

" Don't be absurd. Hyacinth, when Lee's 
Folly is entailed. And I don't think" — 
severely — ''that Mrs Leicester Albany is, 
after all, the best companion for you ; she 
is so very independent, and has such a will 
of her own." 



Tarquin s Lesson still Stands. T07 

" She's a jewel — a darling ! " said Hya- 
cinth ; " and you shan't abuse her, dear, 
any more than Chandos." 

" Chandos, indeed ! " said her ladyship 
indignantly. "Don't let me hear that 
again, Hyacinth, I beg you." 

Whereat Hyacinth turned a 'pirouette^ 
made a pretty moue, and became scarce. 
She was not a bit unhappy — not she ! 
She knew that " Mamma Lee," as wicked 
Douglas called her, would have to give in 
in the end. She only ran off to look for 
Gabrielle, and tell her all about this, and 
Jessie's engagement to Clifford Brandon. 

So another week or ten days passed, out- 
wardly very quietly, very unmarked ; but 
it was the stillness of the volcano, the calm 
before the storm. On all sides danger was 
thickening around Douglas and the self- 
devoted woman whose very life was so 
deeply, so strangely interwoven with his 
for weal or woe. 

But so well had Gabrielle Albany played 



io8 Tarquzjts Lesson still Stands. 

her game, so well had her assistants, passive 
and active, aided her, that up to this time, 
when to remove Douglas abroad it became 
necessary to throw out, as it were, an ad- 
vanced-post hint of such a change. Lady 
Glen-Luna had had absolutely no suspicion 
that the beautiful woman she had introduced 
with so cruel a purpose was her antagonist, 
no suspicion that she was so completely read 
by her ; up till now she had no idea that 
Dr Neville's attendance was for anything 
beyond what had been given out — the injury 
done by the accident to the lift ; up till 
now she had been absolutely duped by her 
clever antagonist into the full persuasion 
that Douglas was worse ; a belief, which 
had had exactly the result Gabrielle had 
foreseen and intended ; it had kept AdeHne 
from again running the risk of any overt, 
and therefore more or less dangerous, means, 
as long as there was such (apparent) almost 
certainty of nature saving her the trouble. 
Now, even when she first heard from Lady 



Tarqidns Lesson still Stands. 109 

Constance the words designedly uttered by 
Chandos Neville, that he was soon, perhaps, 
going abroad with a patient, her first thought 
was one of triumph — " that Douglas was so 
much worse, so hopelessly sinking, that, as 
a last desperate step, they were thinking 
of attempting to move him." Yet this idea 
hardly coincided with appearances, and she 
was puzzled ; perhaps it was not, after all, 
Douglas to whom the physician had alluded ; 
perhaps he had tried all he could, failed,* 
of course, like others, and given up the 
case in despair. 

'* I must find out," she muttered, clench- 
ing her hands ; " leave this house alive he 
never shall. I must speak to Clifi'ord, for 
his interest and mine are one." 

Ay, Lady Glen-Luna, the more so that 
he has the strongest possible reason for not 
losing sight of his wife just now, or Douglas 
either. 

That evening she found an opportunity 
to speak to Albany out on the terrace, 



I lo Tarquins Lesson still Stands, 

while the rest were in the drawing- 
room. 

" Can it be possible, Clifford," she said, 
after telling him of Neville's remark, " that 
he could mean poor dear Douglas ; surely, 
Dr Neville and Mrs Albany cannot be mad 
enough to dream of removing him across 
sea actually in his precarious state ; " the 
woman still kept up the shallow outward 
mask of words to her accomplice. " I must 
speak to his father, he must not — shall not 
—allow it, Clifford ! " 

" Take care how you oppose," said Albany, 
laying his hand on her arm ; " may I say 
what I think—" 

" Go on, Clifford. I know you care for 
Douglas's welfare as much as I do." 

" Quite," said he dryly ; " well, I think, 
then, that you have never really gauged 
Mrs Albany ; or, gaining one important 
point, you have, perhaps, missed another." 

'* How ? What do you mean ? " and 
Adeline started. Albany glanced down at 



Tarquins Lesson still Stands. 1 1 1 

her, with an odd sort of sneer creeping over 
his mouth, as he said slowly, — 

" She is a splendid chess player, Lady 
Glen-Luna. I was watching you both the 
other night when you challenged her. 
Lookers on, you know, see most of the 
game ; and her play was a masterpiece. 
She saw your defect at once, wonderfully 
clever as your plan was ; you, in your 
intentness on your own plan and reliance 
on your own forces, failed to take true count* 
of hers, while she never for one moment, 
in carrying out her plan, lost sight of 
yours. I don't think she made one move 
which did not at once form her own play 
and divert yours and your suspicions into 
a wrong channel. She feigned just enough 
of frank unsuspiciousness to veil the superb 
subtlety it covered ; and, just when your 
splendid coup de main had placed her queen 
and victory in your grasp, in one more 
move, lo 1 a quiet little knight moved his 
cross-move, and you were check-mated in 



112 Tar quins Lesson still Stands. 

the moment of triumph. That woman is a 
splendid strategist ; and what is life but 
one vast game of chess ? " 

Adeline stopped dead, and stood looking 
blankly at him, her fingers clenching 
and unclenching convulsively, her eyes 
glittering. 

" Do you mean," she said, and her voice 
was more hard and metallic than ever, 
" that she has suspected — " 

" Cest ga — seen your cards and kept her 
own in her hands " (how little she dreamed 
that he spoke from such intimate know- 
ledge). "It is now for you to make sure 
whether I am right or wrong ; make her 
throw out at least some of her cards ; the 
mistake you have made may be as fatal as 
your game of chess." 

She wrenched a spray vindictively from 
a young tree near, tore it in half, and flung 
it on the ground. 

"That may go to keep the faded rose 
company still." 



Tarquins Lesson still stands. 1 1 3 

A savage triumph flashed up into the 
man's eyes, and he drew a quick, hard 
breath — this — this would be freedom, in- 
deed, if only they could match that strategy 
and boldness which he had been forced to 
admit and admire. Ah, if ! 

"Look you, Adeline," he said, bending 
down his tall form, and for the first time 
dropping her title, " ask Sir Arthur if he 
has heard of any idea of takiug his son 
away in his critical state — for, of course, 
Neville's remark was meant to be repeated 
— then speak of the matter to Douglas, and 
be careful how you oppose it, if he has 
really made up his mind ; rather, then, 
take it up and ofi"er to go abroad with 
them ; if that is negatived, it will show 
that I am right, as to her — ay, and his 
— suspicions ; but remember that he can, 
I am certain, act as well as she can. 
Up to the present time it is no use, I 
am afraid, to blink the fact that Mrs 
Albany has mastered the situation as far 
VOL. m. H 



114 Tar quins Lesson still stands. 

as you are concerned ; now it is for us to 
turn the tables." 

" Clifford, you have thrown a bombshell 
at my feet ! " said Adeline Glen-Luna, " but 
the game is worth the candle, and it will go 
hard but I will win it. They shall not go 
abroad if that is really their plan. Come 
back now to the others. I'll challenge her 
to no more play games of chess, but only 
play out the real one, even though it be on 
dangerous ground." 



CHAPTER X. 



A FAITHFUL FRIEND. 




OR the devoted woman, to whose 
very heart's core Douglas's help- 
lessness had at once and with 
such irresistible force appealed, this terrible 
and unexpected advent of her husband on 
the battle ground had complicated her 
tactics and deepened the danger and diffi- 
culties to an extent that might well have 
appalled even her bold spirit, for too well 
she knew the desperate, utterly reckless 
man with whom she had now to deal as 
well as Adeline — in herself no despicable 
or scrupulous an enemy, as that lift acci- 
dent had proved too surely. 



1 1 6 A Faithful Friend. 

She had those two, separately and as 
accomplices, to battle ; she must arrest the 
soi-disant marriage, yet without the very 
means of doing so effectually, and in the 
face of the terrible retaliation which would 
be made. She was stemming an over- 
whelming tide single-handed, fighting un- 
aided against odds ; and her only hope, to 
which she bent her whole power, was to 
get Douglas out of the atmosphere of 
destruction which surrounded him within 
reach of those two ; then the esclandre — 
the tide against herself, might crash over 
her. She alone knew to the full the real 
force of the enemy ; even Douglas had no 
idea of the terrible interest against both 
his and her own life — that she was as 
much the one obstacle in the path of a 
ruthless man as he was in that of an 
equally hardened woman. She felt like one 
in the dark, with danger all around, know- 
ing not whence the next blow would come, 
or when it would fall. She dared not tell 



A Faithful Friend. 117 

Douglas, even if he could have been of use ; 
the sense of his own helplessness was mad- 
dening enough to the man as it was ; her 
part was to ward from him, not add to, 
anything that could fret or pain him, or 
rouse his deepest, wildest passions. All he 
knew, his very love for her, was torture 
enough, she knew by her own heart, and 
beyond all, she dreaded lest the thin veil 
between their two hearts should be torn 
down jpev saltum. She had foreseen that 
the climax must come, and she be oblio^ed to 
show some of her cards, whenever the time 
came that he was able to bear the removal 
abroad ; but this marriage had hastened 
matters terribly. Is it not too often so iu 
warfare ? 

" God keep you and rest you, dear 
Gabrielle," Douglas had said only that very 
night when they parted. Kest ! how could 
she ? She did not even try, now that for 
a brief space she could drop the self-con- 
tained control she dared not cast aside by 



1 1 8 A Faithful Friend, 

day ; and to and fro, to and fro her 
chamber she walked, hearing Harford talk- 
ing to his master in his dressing-room 
across the corridor, answered by the soft 
tones of music she had learned to love so 
well. What wonder that she wrung those 
delicate hands in voiceless agony, and took 
no heed of how the night-watch crept on, 
scarce knew even when the soft murmur 
of those voices ceased ; what wonder that 
she started with a sudden, wild flash of 
fear and passionate indignation, when pre- 
sently there came a light tap at the inside 
door opening into her sitting-room — what 
if her husband had dared — 

*' Mrs Albany, are you undressed yet ? " 
William Harford's true, earnest voice ! 
The revulsion from dread to relief was so 
intense that she almost staggered dizzily ; 
the next moment she had opened the 
door, colourless as marble, and faced the 
oourier. 

" Mrs Albany ! do you know how you 



A Faithful Friend, 119 

look ? " the man said under his breath, as 
the light from the lamp she held fell on 
her face. 

He came right into the room. 

" Never mind me — your knock startled 
me a little ; what is the matter, Harford ? " 

He took the lamp from her hand, and set 
it on the table as he answered, — 

" Nothing with the master, madam, but 
I wanted to speak to you without his know- 
ing it, at once, and so I ventured to steal in 
here when I left him. Mrs Albany, it is 
about this Mr Brandon I want to speak." 

Gabrielle put one hand suddenly on the 
back of a chair near her — 

" Go on," she said, " w^hat of him ? — you 
know you can say what you like to me 
Harford." 

" I know — thank you ; neither you nor 
the master, then, like him or this marriage 
any better than I do." 

" Like him or — no." 

" I hardly know, ma'am," said the courier. 



I20 A Faithful Friend. 

looking down for a minute, " why I first 
felt somehow suspicious of him — quite in a 
vague sort of way, you know — except, per- 
haps, he came so completely as a friend — 
hand and glove — of Lady Glen-Luna, and, 
' birds of a feather flock together,' the 
more so since he's engaged to Miss Jessie, 
because, of course, his interest and hers are 
one, to make the succession to Luna sure 
and quick." 

Gabrielle shivered ; she could have taken 
him up and told, him more than he had ever 
dreamed. 

"They think he is rich," she said, with 
that ring of bitter irony, " but he may be 
a mere adventurer — a dissolute roue. 

" I quite think so, Mrs Albany ; but I 
have heard enough to-night to make sus- 
picion certainty ; they were out on the 
terrace together ; I chanced to see them as 
I was returning from visiting my sister. 
They were near the windows of the empty 
ballroom, so I turned round, softly opened 



A Faithf til Friend, 121 

one of them a little, and bent my ear to catch, 
if ever so little, what they said ; everything 
is fair and right in the master's service.*' 

" Quite — go on," she said, setting her 
teeth ; '* what did you hear ? " 

" Only a few words, madam, here and 
there, but that was enough," he said, with 
a gleam in his bright eyes. " I could make 
out that Mr Brandon was speaking of your 
play in a game of chess in which you won, 
from which he was warning her that as §he 
played that game so she played this other. 
She looked angry, alarmed, stopped, he 
bent down ; I am certain that then some 
definite compact was made between them, 
for finally she wrenched ofi" a spray from a 
shrub, tore it in half and stamped upon it, 
with these words : ' That may go to keep 
the rose company,' — a significant action and 
expression, Mrs Albany." 

She put her hand that was not holding 
the chair to her brow, and drew a sharp 
breath that was almost a gasp. 



12 2 A Faithful Friend. 

" I think, too," said Harford, deeply 
pained to see sucli signs of an anguish 
which, this time, she could not quite 
master, *'that the hint of Mr Douglas's 
removal will make them suspect that you 
have played a double part." 

Gabrielle dropped her hand and faced 
him again. How deadly pale and haggard 
she was. Her mind, too powerful to be 
ever long in chaos, was made up. Once 
more pride, sensitiveness, all herself must 
be put aside for his sake. 

" From the first time,"^ she said steadily, 
'* that Dr Neville gave us hope, and said 
that at a certain stage, if reached, a removal 
to one of the spas would be beneficial, I 
knew that when such a time came the risk 
of that woman's suspicion and opposition, 
open or secret, must be run and bafiled, of 
course ; but I knew long ago what you have 
only recently or even just now discovered ; 
I have been struggling against a double tide, 
not from want of trust in you, faithful 



A Faithful Friend. 123 

friend, but — but Harford, swear that you 
will hold inviolate until I give you leave, 
what I may say." 

" Mrs Albany, it is my place to obey my 
master and mistress," said the courier, inter- 
nally deeply startled ; " I should never for a 
moment have thought you mistrusted me." 

" Thank you. Swear then." 

*' I swear." 

She turned abruptly from him, walked to 
the end of the room, then back, struggling 
proudly against her bitter anguish. 

" When that man came down here 
amongst the guests, I knew that he came 
under utterly false colours — an adventurer, 
for the sole purpose of rebuilding his squan- 
dered fortunes by a marriage with the girl 
he means to be the heiress of Glen-Luna. 
I knew who and what he really was, and of 
an obstacle to his scheme which he cannot 
sweep away, but has for a time weighted so 
terribly that it was impossible to unmask 
him." 



124 A Faithful Friend, 

She paused, as if to gather strength. 

"Harford, that obstacle — hush, for holy 
Heaven's sake ! — you guess ! " 

" That this Brandon has a wife living," 
said Harford sternly, " and the cursed 
villain dares attempt such a foul stain to 
the honour of Glen-Luna ! But you can 
stop this ; you say you know it." 

" I know it, to my bitterest cost ! " Each 
word fell as if it were a drop of her life's 
blood. '' God hel]3 me ! I am that man's 
wife — Leicester Albany." 

Harford fell back a step, as if a blow had 
been struck him. 

'' Great Heaven ! don't — don't tell me 
that is true ! " 

She sank on to a chair by the table, and 
laid her face upon it in her hands, not 
weeping, no tears would come to her relief, 
only convulsive, suppressed, dry sobs, that 
racked the slender form all the more terribly 
because they were suppressed lest, haply, 
Douglas should hear — always for him the 



A Faithful Friend. 125 

first thoufifht — even in such bitter aDguish 

o o 

as this. 

" Hush ! oh hush ! It is terrible to see 
a young thing suffer so ! " and in his 
earnestness Harford laid his hand on her 
shoulder. " My dear, don't, for his sake ! " 

Did he know the full power of the plea 
that came so naturally ? But even then it 
was minutes before she could lift her head 
and speak — brokenly then at first. 

'' I know all you feel ; but you do npt 
know why I have kept, still must, keep 
silence." She paused for full a minute, and 
then, still with her face averted, though 
speaking more steadily, went on — " I made 
one terrible mistake when I was separated ; 
I destroyed every paper connected with 
him, and he knew it. When he found me 
— his wife — here, he defied me to prove 
that he was Leicester Albany — my husband 
— and swore that if I unmasked him and 
claimed him as my husband, he would — 
just Heaven ! that he should have lived to 



126 A Faithful Friend, 

say it ! — he would claim me as having been 
his mistress." 

Harford suddenly put his hand over his 
lips to stifle the fierce exclamation that 
sprang to them, and muttered hoarsely, — 

" If the master knew all this, he would 
kill him as I—" 

" Hush ! " Mrs Albany rose now, with 
an utterly weary movement. " You know, 
can see now why this forced me to feign — 
act total defeat — yielding until w^e have the 
master safe away from this esclandre. You 
see fully now what two desperate enemies 
we have to deal with, and what reason 
the man — my husband — has for sweeping 
out of his way, if he can, both obstacles to 
this marriage and the fortune." 

" I see it all, Mrs Albany." The man's 
voice was hoarse with stifled emotion and 
passion as he locked her slender hand in his 
own. " I will obey you, as I hope I have 
always done, because you are my dear 
mistress, and, for your own sake and the 



A Faithful Friend. 127 

master's we both love so deeply ; and I will 
serve you to the uttermost you may ask, 
because you are the most unhappy, most 
foully-wronged woman that man's villainy 
ever cursed ; but, if ever there comes a time 
when either the master or I can avenge 
your wrongs, so help me Heaven ! it will 
be the worse for any hand that shall try 
to stay us." 

" That hand will never be mine, William 
Harford." 

There was a pause, then the courier spoke 
in another tone, full of earnest anxiety, — 

"Will you try and rest now — try to 
sleep ? You look so ill, poor child — so ill — 
and the master will see it at once — even 
now, I fear." 

" I will try, dear, faithful friend ; good 
night." 

" Good night, Mrs Albany, good night, 
my dear." In all his five-and-forty years 
he had found no such sorrowful a young 
life as this. 



CHAPTEE XL 



DROPPING THE MASK A LITTLE. 




'ADY GLEN-LUNA did not go 

to Douglas's rooms in order to 
carry out the plan suggested 
by her confederate, but watched till one 
fine morning she saw Mrs Albany wheeling 
the chair across the lawn, and when it 
stopped she took her sunshade and tripped 
out to them. 

" Good morning, both of you," said she ; 
" what is this I hear from Lady Constance, 
dear Douglas ? — it has quite alarmed me. 
What can Dr Neville be thinking of to 
dream of such a risk as sending you 



Droppi7ig the Mask a Little. 129 

abroad? or" — reproachfully — "you cither, 
Mrs Albany ? " 

The blood flushed over Glen-Luna's 
brow ; any allusion to his being helpless, 
any discussion about himself, from this 
woman of all people, pained and stung 
him almost unbearably, the more so, per- 
haps, this time because he knew that it 
was inevitable, and this even GabrieJle 
must permit, instead of warding it off. 

" Tiens-toi, helle-mere," he said lightly, 
" I must protect both physician and nurse 
from blame. Neville and Gabrielle think 
it may be attempted — how soon did he 
say ? " 

" About three weeks, we hope, Mr Glen- 
Luna." 

" Cest-qa, and my father has as entire a 
reliance on both as I have. They tell me 
I may do as I like best," he added, drop- 
ping his head languidly back. 

It flashed across Adeline with evil 
quickness that that was often what physi- 
voL. iir. I 



130 Dropping the Mask a Little. 

cians said when all skill and hope had 
failed, and it was only uceloss fretting the 
doomed patient to cross his wishes. His 
little fine bit of acting deceived her ; but 
she saw^ her way to the test agreed on. 

'* Well, dear, if so, you will have your 
w^ay, I suppose, despite the risk. But have 
any of you thought of — I presume you 
wish Mrs Albany to attend you ? " 

Douglas laughed outright, and Gabrielle 
half smiled ; both saw so plainly. 

" My dear Adeline, are we either of us 
like Juliet, ' a stranger in the world ? 
Neville will go with us, and Miss Neville 
too." 

" But, my dearest boy, that is not 
enough," exclaimed Lady Glen-Luna ; " Mrs 
Albany, you must see that for your own 
sake this won't do. No, no ; a capital 
plan has entered my head. You must 
stop for your sister's marriage ; that shall 
be hurried forward, and then we can all 
go abroad together — your father and I 



Dropping the Mask a Little. .131 

and your party. Won't that be the very 
thing ? We shall make quite a happy 
party." 

Douglas shook his head, but Mrs Albany 
said quietly, with a touch of hauteur in her 
firm manner, — 

" Pardon me, madame ; but even being 
here under your roof has not saved me from 
scandal, if I had cared about it ; and being 
myself a married woman, and Dr and 
Miss Neville (beside her fifty years), people 
of the highest repute, I consider their pre- 
sence quite enough protection for my name, 
without the least need of disturbing your 
ladyship's plans, or taxing the freedom of 
your movements." 

** But, my dear" — broke in Adeline 
eagerly — *' it's no tax to do anything for 
my dear Douglas, as you must know by 
this time." 

"Plainly, Lady Glen-Luna, then, as 
his attendant, answerable for his w^elfare 
to his father and physician, I must abso- 



132 Dropping the Mask a Lit lie. 

lutely put my veto upon any increase to 
the travelling party. Harford, Dr Neville, 
myself, and Miss Neville are necessary, 
and more than that would be far too much 
for Mr Glen-Luna." 

For the hundredth part of a second Ade- 
line paused ; for that infinitely small space 
of time she had almost betrayed herself — 
just a flash, a look — but it escaped neither 
of those two. Then she laughed, shaking 
her finger at Mrs Albany. 

" Oh, you naughty, naughty girl. Dou- 
glas is quite right to call you his autocrat. 
I never could get such obedience from him, 
I can tell you, bad boy. But my dear — " 

" Well " — a slight, restless, almost fretted 
movement of the handsome head. 

"You won't go abroad, Douglas, until 
after Jessie's marriage ? " 
. He saw Gabrielle shiver — and his own 
brow darkened as he answered coldly, — 

** I could not, and would not be present, 
Adeline, for every possible reason, and 



Dropping the Mask a Little. 133 

therefore my movements must be quite 
independent of your plans." 

" Oh, Douglas ! poor Jessie will feel it so ! 
She will think you don't like CHfFord." 

" I do not think," said Douglas, leaning 
back with a weary look, *'that Jessie much 
cares whether I like Brandon or not, or 
whether I am present or absent from her 
marriage. What date have you thought of?" 

" Somewhere about a month, Clifford 
wishes it ; and, as we did not inten(i to 
make any fuss, it can be so done." 

" As you will, then, Adeline ; neither I 
nor mine will be in your way. I shall see 
all my pictures, books, art treasures, and so 
on removed from those rooms before we 
leave them, because the workmen are to be 
turned into them ; for, if I live to come 
back again — " 

" Oh, Douglas !— don't !— " 

("Not badly acted," thought Gabrielle, 
with a sarcastic smile creeping over her 
lips.) 



134 Dropping the Mask a Little. 

He answered with quiet sadness, — 

" My life, Adeline, is not such a prize to 
me as to most men ; if I come back I want 
to see some change — something different to 
the colours and fittings I have seen for 
nearly two years." 

" Whatever you wish, dearest, of course 
is our law ; why not have those barred-up, 
empty old schoolrooms below yours done 
up?" 

"No, thanks. I should lose the open 
view, I should be shut in by the belt of 
trees — I could not bear it ! " 

'* Well, dear, what you please. Ta, ta ; 
I see Clifford and Jessie on the terrace." 

And, kissing the tips of her fingers, she 
tripped away again. 

Both looked after her till she met the 
other two figures, and then, as by one im- 
pulse, each turned, and their eyes met. 

"When I leave those rooms" — said 
Douglas slowly — " I shall never, never come 
back to them, Gabrielle — never, never." 



Dropping the Mask a Little. 135 

Were those words prophetic ? Are we 
sometimes permitted to feel, rather than 
see into the future, like one groping in the 
dark? 

Was there to come a terrible hour, all 
too soon, when each of those two would 
recall those words ? Merciful Heaven ! was 
there not ? 




CHAPTER XII. 

DEEPER AND DEEPER THE BLACK 
SHADOWS FALL. 

OU were right, Clifford," said 
Lady Glen-Luna ; they were 
alone in the drawing-room, 
before dinner, and her hand clenched on 
the daintyhandkerchief itheld,— "you were 
right about that woman, Mrs Albany." 
Leicester Albany drew a quick breath. 
" She does suspect you, then ? " 
"Yes," she said between her teeth, ''if 
your test is infallible." 

" She would not hear of your offer to go 
with them ? " 



Deepe}' and Deeper, etc. 137 

" She ! — yes — she herself — like the auto- 
crat he makes of her." 

" Makes ! I tell you, Adeline, bah ! you 
meant it — meant him to be her slave 1 if 
not, then you were mad to place such a 
woman about any man. She is as dangerous 
as she is beautiful." 

"Dead men tell no tales," said Adeline, 
with a short laugh ; "go abroad they never 
shall." 

" Your hand on that, Adeline, if Jessie^ is 
mine first," said Albany, with a gleam in 
his black eyes. He had the game now, and 
meant to use it. Adeline looked at him a 
minute, and then, drojDping her fan, put her 
right hand into his." 

" So be it ! ways and means will suggest 
themselves in time — circumstances which 
will retard their going from here, and would 
also put off a marriage. I will see to it, 
Clifford ; in three weeks it must take place." 

"Tell me what passed on the lawn, that 
you say three weeks so glibly." 



138 Deeper and Deeper, etc. 

She told him the substance of what had 
passed. 

" I cannot now," she concluded, " make 
out whether Douglas is better or worse ; I 
think he is worse, from many little signs, 
only Dr Neville, I can quite see, is one of 
those venturesome doctors who, when there 
is not much hope, are fond of rushing into 
bold measures." 

" The kill or cure sort," said Albany with 
a sneer ; " it may be so, but I am suspicious 
of madame. She sent for him, didn't she, 
after that lift accident ? " 

** Yes, but then there was no one to send 
for besides him, except that stupid Dr Orde, 
and of course Harford would have told her 
which was the best." 

Albany dared not say too much about his 
wife lest he should arouse in Lady Glen- 
Luna some suspicion that he was speaking 
with more knowledge of her than he could 
well have got in the, after all, slight ac- 



Deeper and Deeper, etc, 139 

quaintance down here. He asked, ratlier 
abruptly, — - 

"What day have they fixed for their 
exodus ? for it seems a thoroughly planned 
thing." 

" Mrs Albany named no day, only men- 
tioned three weeks or thereabouts ; and 
seemed doubtful of his coming back 
alive." 

Leicester laughed sardonically. 

" He had better be doubtful the oth^r 
way — of leaving here alive. Listen to me, 
Adeline ; on second thoughts we will leave 
the date of the marriage as before — a month 
hence. If anything should occur a week 
beforehand," he spoke slowly now, his 
glittering eyes fixed on hers — " any family 
loss or calamity, you understand — the 
marriage would be delayed a week, perhaps, 
and be quite private, of course. Do you 
understand ? " 

She blanched a little now that her own 
crime came before her in a second person's 



140 Deeper and Deeper, etc. 

hand, but answered with that cold evil smile 
of hers, — 

" I perfectly understa,nd. You are quite 
right." 

If there were really truth in the teaching 
of Pythagoras, surely this woman's soul had 
once inhabited the body of a tiger-cat, and 
carried its nature with it in its transfigura- 
tion into hers. 

The gossiping coteries of Doring had 
plenty to talk about and anticipate in the 
next fortnight with the doings and expected 
doings at Luna Hall. 

Miss Glen-Luna was going to be married 
in one month, at St Agnes the Martyr, to 
that rich Mr Clifford Brandon — they knew 
it would end so, my dear — and Lady Con- 
stance and Miss Lee were to remain — yes — 
they had all (this from ladies) gone up to 
London yesterday to order the trousseau ; 
while Sir Arthur and the bridegroom-elect 
had also gone to town — lawyers' settlements, 
of course. Sir Arthur had returned alone, 



Deeper and Deepe7% etc. 1 4 1 

but Mr Brandon was coming back a week 
or ten days before Mr Douglas Glen-Luna 
went abroad. Oh, yes, it was perfectly 
true, my dear lady, extraordinary as the 
whole thing is ; a very clever practitioner 
from Manchester was coming to take Dr 
Neville's place (he never had come to stop, 
you know), and he and his sister were going 
to Germany with Mr Glen-Luna and " that " 
Mrs Leicester Albany ; just a last desperate 
attempt to prolong his life, poor fellow ; 
that dear, tender-hearted Lady Glen-Luna 
was in a terrible way about him. And his 
rooms were all to be re-done, and his valu- 
able pictures and all sorts of things he had 
got there were to be moved to the picture 
gallery before he left. He didn't himself 
think he would come back alive, Lady 
Glen-Luna said, with tears in her sweet 
eyes. 

Perhaps there had been — so can a croco- 
dile shed tears, we know. 

To Albany's unhappy wife his absence — 



142 Deeper and Deeper, etc. 

short as it was — was a brief respite, that 
seemed to give her breathing time. If one 
load more of anxiety could be added to the 
weight she bore already, it was because she 
saw that, with each day that passed, Douglas 
grew more restlessly unquiet to leave " his 
prison," and more deeply fretted about the 
coming marriage, more straining after some 
means of averting it. 

" I don't know why it is, Gabrielle," he 
said one evening, "but there is something 
in this marriage which I dislike and dread 
beyond even my dislike to the man. It 
frets me terribly that I am so powerless to 
stop it. It was too late to do that through 
my father, even when he came to tell me ; 
I would to Heaven I had some tangible 
proofs against him in my hand that would 
turn Adeline, or even poor, silly, flighty 
Jessie." 

Gabrielle had been seated on the foot of 
his sofa, reading aloud, but as he spoke she 
rose abruptly and walked to the other end 



Deeper and Deeper, etc. 143 

of the long apartment, her pulse throbbing, 
her heart beating heavily. Oh how heavily ! 
What should she do, what could she do, 
without stepping too far on to dangerous 
ground ; and yet, how could she let this 
constant mental wear go on utterly unre- 
lieved, knowing so well the incalculable 
influence the mental has over the physical, 
especially in a temperament so highly 
strung and rendered even painfully sensitive 
by long confinement to every mental in- 
fluence ? She felt how wistfully his eyes 
followed her movements, knew that he had 
long known that she was troubled, and took 
a middle course, for hers was a mind too 
strong and decided to ever remain long in 
a state of doubt. She came back to him, 
and said, in that suppressed way of hers 
that always to him told of such a world of 
passion sternly controlled, — 

" Give me your honour not to ask me 
any questions about what I mean, or how I 
mean : not one, and I will set your anxiety 



1 44 Deeper ami Deeper y etc, 

about Jessie's marriage at rest. I cannot 
see you do yourself sucli harm." 

How he started and flushed ; then sank 
back again. 

" Dear Gabrielle — I am nothing but a 
trouble to you." 

" Hush ; I wish all troubles, then, were 
like you," she could not help saying, half 
under her breath; *'give me your gage 
dhonneur, then." 

" You hold it in your right hand, Gab- 
rielle," he said, and clasped it in his own ; 
" take that load away from the other if you 
can ; I will ask nothing." 

Standing there at his side, her hand held 
in his, her dark eyes steadily meeting his, 
Albany's wife said firmly, — 

" Hear this, then, and be at rest. This 
marriage will never take place." 

"Gabrielle!" 

'* It is as true as I am standing here. 
However near it may seem, even to the 
very altar, it will never take place." 



Deeper and Deeper^ etc. 145 

" Thank God ! oh ! thank God ! " 

He covered his face, and so lay quite 
still for a long time ; and Gabrielle turned 
away to the window with heaving breast, 
and struggling to crush back the bitter 
tears that welled up from the poor, racked 
heart ; so strong and grand in its very 
weakness of tender, sensitive womanhood 
— ay, in its matchless power to bear and 
suffer for the one loved being. 

She had mastered herself before Douglas 
spoke again. 

" I take your assurance in absolute faith, 
Gabrielle, and, whatever I may think or 
fancy, keep silence till you choose to speak 
more. You know that Brandon returns 
here to-morrow ? " 

" Yes ; Hyacinth told me that there had 
been a letter from him this morning. Your 
father came up here, just as I left to ride 
over to Sister Eose, did he not ? 

" Ay ; it seems that he and Brandon are 
going to run up to town to finally arrange 

VOL. III. K 



1 46 Deeper and Deeper, etc. 

the settlements — get the special licence and 
so forth — next Wednesday, returning on 
Thursday, — ^just the week before we 
leave." 

"They had better burn the settlements 
and licence ! " said Mrs Albany, with bitter 
irony, " for all are waste paper. For our 
own arrangements, I have settled every- 
thing, both with our sweet Sister Eose and 
here — " 

'*You and Harford — well? pardon my 
interuption — " 

" These rooms will be dismantled of all 
but the furniture on Tuesday next ; the 
piano and your secretaire go to the library ; 
the pictures, statues, and books which we 
do not take, go, as you wished, to the little 
picture gallery in the east wing. Our 
luggage and the Nevilles', with the carriage 
and horses, will all be sent on to town with 
Marston and James, straight on board your 
yacht, and there will be nothing to trouble 
us on the Thursday but ourselves. Harford 



Deeper and Deeper, etc. 1 4 7 

is a host in himself. Of course, the chair 
and Angus go with us." 

**Dear Gabrielle, how splendidly you 
have arranged everything ! and to give you 
such trouble — for me." 

She touched his lips, and said quietly, — 

"For you — my one charge, one thought 
— nothing is trouble." 

In his heart's core surely he knew that 
long ago, as she was his one thought. He 
smiled up at her, and added, — 

"And it was you who even thought of 
crossing in my own dear yacht, because you 
knew how T loved it ! Oh, Gabrielle, I am 
nearly wild, I think, with looking, looking 
on and thinking of this, more than hope you 
and Chandos give ; I can see " — he started 
half up, his dark eyes all glowing with light, 
his speaking features, his whole form quiver- 
ing with emotion — " I see \h.^ yacht, I hear 
them getting up the steam if the breeze 
should drop : the wind is filling her white 
canvas now as she dances on the deep blue 



148 Deeper and Deeper, etc. 

seas, the white horses are out as I saw them 
last ; see myself standing on the deck with 
you — you at my side — all this past misery 
and agony of doubt and death around is 
growing a dark dream — my God ! it is too 
much ! it cannot all come true ! " he broke 
out suddenly, passionately, and almost fling- 
ing himself back, buried his face in the 
cushions. 

One second's pause, one second's fierce 
battle against untold agony and temptation, 
and then the noble woman who so loved 
him, bent over him, laid her soft hand on 
the bowed head, and breathed a deep pas- 
sionate prayer. 

" God save thee from all danger and 
sorrow ! God keep thee for ever and ever." 

Then he heard the door close, and knew 
that he was alone, if ever the human heart 
is alone that gives and holds a pure and 
noble love. 

So the days passed by, one by one, drop- 



Deeper mid Deepe7% etc. 1 49 

ping off the tablets of time ; marked out 
from life's scroll ; leaving behind it to the 
future each its load of sin and care and 
misery ; and the right hand that once wrote 
these words miQ;ht write them ag^ain in 
letters of blood, — 

" 111 deeds will rise, 
Though all the world o'er whelm them, to men's eyes." 




CHAPTEE XIII. 



A GULF AT HIS FEET. 




ND then that Thursday came ; 
the week before Douglas Glen- 
Luna's departure, the fortnight 
before the projected marriage of Jessie. 

There were, it seemed, several feminine 
" fripperies " yet to be purchased, and Lady 
Glen-Luna, declaring she was not equal to 
a day's shopping, begged Lady Constance 
to go with the girls, as Mrs Albany could 
not, she knew — and, indeed, ought not — to 
leave " dear Douglas " for a whole day. 
Lady Constance good-naturedly consented, 
and the ten o'clock up-train took herself, 
Hyacinth, and Jessie to town — not probably 



A Gulf at His Feet, 1 5 1 

to return till dinner-time. But Sir Arthur 
Glen-Luna and his son-in-law elect returned 
in time for luncheon. They walked up 
from the station to the Hall, and, as they 
approached the stately facade and broad 
terrace, Sir Arthur caught sight of his son 
and his two rarely absent attendants — Mrs 
Albany and Angus. So did Leicester see 
them, but he had little wish to nearer 
quarters, though, as Sir Arthur immediately 
changed his course, Albany could hardly <lo 
less than follow, though, sooth to say, under 
present conditions he felt in his wife's pre- 
sence very much like a " cat on hot bricks," 
not because his brazen effrontery had failed, 
or that he was capable of shame, but be- 
cause, try as he would to feel that he. 
was master of the situation, he could 
not crush a vague fear of her — a dim, 
uncomfortable feeling that somehow the 
game might not turn out so entirely 
liis ; he knew her haughty courage, her 
bold spirit, and her never-forgotten words 



152 A Gulf at His Feet. 

months ago, " Whatever you do, I will 
foil you." 

Sir Arthur was, of course, warmly greeted 
— himself courteously but coldly, and he 
fancied that in Douglas's manner there was 
more hauteur than usual. 

" Come and lunch with us to-day, dear 
boy," said Sir Arthur ; "if only to give us 
the com2)any of this fair lady, as all are 
absent except my little wife. And, besides, 
we shall want you afterwards — eh, Clif- 
ford?" 

** Oh, Sir Arthur, we need not trouble 
them ; any one can just witness the signing 
of a deed." 

" What deed, father ? " said Douglas 
quietly. 

" Only Clifford's settlement on your little 
sister," returned the baronet, with a laugh- 
ing glance at Albany ; " you will come in 
then, Douglas — and you, my dear ? " 

" We will come, since you wish it, dear 
father," Glen-Luna answered, and Gabrielle 



A Gulf at His Feet, 153 

bowed assent, " only you will have to kindly 
allow us to retreat to our rooms in good 
time, as w^e expect the Nevilles to dinner, 
I fancy" — he smiled now — "that the two 
ladies have a few details of the journey to 
arrange." 

"You shall go when you like, my boy. 
Come Clifford ; we have all the dust to get 
rid of." 

If it had been possible to dispense with 
his wife's presence at that luncheon, Leices- 
ter Albany would fain have done so. She 
was as easy, as brilliant, as fascinating as 
ever — but he felt that she knew he was not 
at his ease, strive as he would to be so — to 
seem so. He did not know that Douglas 
was equally aware of the fact that his gaiety 
was forced, though Gabrielle was, and more 
than once she noticed a momentary stern 
expression about his lips which startled 
her. 

Sir Arthur, perfectly innocent of all the 
turbid currents around him, sat and chatted, 



154 ^ Gulf at His Feet. 

so bright and happy in his green old age, 
that it made two of those present heavy- 
hearted, indeed, with the thought that he 
might — ay, perhaps, must — one day know 
the skeleton on his own hearth. 

*' How we have chatted," said Lady Glen- 
Luna, at length, in her pretty manner. ** I 
suppose we had better adjourn to the 
library ; doesn't it seem a shame, dear Mrs 
Albany," she added, laughing as she rose, 
" that in this life one cannot have romance 
and sentiment without that stupid, prosaic 
business — business always forcing its way 
in ? Such a pity, isn't it ? " 

" I think that real romance is not so 
much as touched by the prosaic necessities 
of daily life," returned Mrs Albany, laying 
her hand on the back of Douglas's chair 
to move it. 

Albany turned with outstretched hand, — 

" Nay, Mrs Albany, permit me ; I think 
there is a step up into the library ! " 

She put his hand back with such stern 



A Gulf at His Feet, 155 

menace in the action, and one glance she 
gave him, that an instant quiver of dread 
ran through him. 

** That, then, Mr Brandon," she said 
deliberately, " is the more reason for me 
not to desert my post. I am used to it 
and you are not, and do not realise, perhaps, 
how harmful would be the least jerk, or 
want of skill. Sir Arthur, we will follow 
you, please." 

" Oh, you naughty autocrat," laughed 
Adeline, as Sir Arthur threw wide the door 
and led the way, but the laugh was not 
good to hear, and the voice was more 
metallic than ever, " I don't know how 
Douglas will put up with you abroad ; 
better leave you behind, my dear." 

" I could not spare her, I think," said 
Douglas, with a deep earnestness under the 
jesting tone which went to the heart of the 
woman who had loved him first — woman- 
like — for his very need of her tenderness 
and care, " and I think, too, that she is as 



156 A Gulf at His Feet. 

restless and glad to spread her wings again 
as I am." 

As he said that they passed from the 
hall into the library at the far end of it, 
and at a sign from Sir Arthur his attendant 
drew the chair up alongside the large solid 
table in the centre, and Albany, entering 
last, closed the door carefully, then came 
forward too. 

There was a pause — an odd sort of mental 
lull — such as we feel in the elements before 
a storm. The dog — and how instantly 
these dear four-footed friends of ours are 
alive to the mental atmosphere around 
them only those who love and watch them 
can know — the dog looked from one to the 
other, licked his master's hand, and looked 
again at Leicester Albany, then suddenly 
growled. 

" Silence, Angus, lie down, boy." 

Instant obedience, but he laid his head on 
his master's foot, and kept his bright watch- 
ful eyes on his master's face. 



A Gulf at His Feet, 157 

Lady Glen-Luna asked pleasantly — 

"Well, but what are we waiting for, 

Arthur ? Is the settlement here, Clifford ? '"' 

He bowed, with a furtive glance at his 

wife, who stood beside Douglas, resting her 

hand lightly on the back of his wheel-chair. 

"Sir Arthur, you put it into a drawer 

here, I think ; shall I take it out ? " 

" Certainly ; that drawer near you. 
Douglas and Mrs Albany will kindly be 
the witnesses to your signature ; it is on^y, 
you know, his marriage settlement on 
Jessie." 

" Only I " — the beautiful woman whose life 
he had wrecked stood motionless as a statue 
outwardly, but within the volcano was seeth- 
ing wildly ; the fierce forces of the woman's 
whole strong, impassioned nature were 
surging madly now like a tempest-tossed 
mass of waters against the barriers she had 
raised up around them; the sternest self- 
control has its limits, and hers had well 
nigh reached that point, one touch more — 



158 A Gulf at His Feet, 

one s]3ark flung too defiantly against her — 
and let that black-browed man beware, and 
remember her last menace : — '' If I fall, I 
will not fall alone." 

" A formidable -looking document isn't it?'* 
said Sir Arthur, as Albany unrolled a parch- 
ment on the table near Douglas, and took 
up a pen. In that second, even as he 
stooped to sign, some irresistible impulse 
made him glance nervously, furtively at his 
wife, as she still stood at Douglas's right 
hand — her left hand lying on the arm of the 
chair, which was close to the table, and, of 
course, between her and the table. 

She looked straight in his face, into his 
bold black eyes, and they dropped suddenly, 
a red flush leaped to his swarthy cheek, to 
his very brow, and he bent quite low as he 
signed the name — " Cliflbrd Brandon." 

Douglas saw all this, and set his white 
teeth close for his promise' sake as Albany 
handed him. the pen. He had been leaning 
back as if weary, and now bent forward 



A Gttlf at His Feet. 159 

slowly, drew the parchment closer, and 
pausing, looked up suddenly into Gabrielle's 
white set face. 

" Places mix dames ; will you sign first ? " 
he said. 

" No ; I will follow the heir of Glen- 
Luna." 

He stooped at once and dashed off the free, 

easy signature she knew so well, then, lean- 
ing back, put the pen into Gabrielle's hand. 

It was one of those moments in which the 
whole balance of our lives hangs on the cast 
of a feather's weight into the scale. She 
did not leave her position, but leaned 
slightly across Douglas and dipped the pen 
in the ink — touched the parchment, almost 
formed a G, paused, and let the pen drop 
on the deed. With a fierce gleam in his 
black eyes, losing for the moment of anger 
perfect guard, Albany instantly raised the 
pen, and, bending to restore it, whispered 
the menacing words : — 

" Remember, and sign." 



1 6o A Gidf at His Feet. 

The hour had come ; it was the one touch 
too much, and the pen was flung from the 
hand that held it. 

" I will not sign my name or set my seal 
to so foul a lie, so black a deed, as this." 
She took the parchment and rent it in two 
as the words passed her lips. '' To which 
you dared not aflix your real name ; you who, 
base adventurer to the last, have crept and 
crawled to a stainless house, to steal away 
its daughter s honour for the gold her hand 
may bring you ! Look upon him, you two 
knightly men — father and son " — she laid 
her left hand heavily on Douglas's shoulder, 
mindful, even in her passion of wrath and 
scorn, that her words would make him 
spring to his feet in the next moment — 
" who never yet sullied a woman's honour by 
even a glance, and ask him if he dare deny 
that he has betrayed your hospitality, and 
like the reptile, would sting to death the hand 
that fed it, the life given for his dastard 
life — ask him if he dare deny that 



A Gulf at His Feet. 1 6 1 

he is my wedded husband ! — Leicester 
Albany!"' 

" I guessed this, and, by the God above ! 
he shall answer for it ! Drop your hand, 
Gabrielle!" 

The whole force of the man's deep 
passions, the whole strength of his fierce, 
stern wrath, so long smouldering, blazed 
forth in that moment, and but for the 
dear hand he could not violently throw 
off Douglas had sprung to his feet artd 
wrecked all hope for himself in the one 
blow that would have levelled Albany with 
the ground ; but almost as she answered, " I 
will not drop it," Sir Arthur, on whom her 
accusation had fallen like a thunderbolt, re- 
covered himself and strode forward, while 
Lady Glen-Luna still stood like one utterly 
dumbfoundered. 

" In Heaven's name what am I to under- 
stand by this ? What have you to say to 
this charge ? Speak, man, and clear the 
mystery if you can ! " 

VOL. Ill L 



i62 A Gulf at His Feet. 

" Douglas," came Adeline's voice, hoarse 
with real terror now, " keep the dog down, 
for pity's sake ! " 

For the dog had crouched for a spring, 
with drawn lips and quivering flanks ; but 
it was only for his father's sake that his 
master uttered one stern, " Down, Angus 1 " 
as Albany spoke. He had only lost his 
effrontery for one minute. 

" The mystery. Sir Arthur," he said, 
sternly, " and the explanation of that lady's 
extraordinary claim to be my wife is simple 
enough, and my mistake in it lies in the 
fact that I have too long and entirely kept 
silence respecting who and what she is, out 
of consideration for her as a woman, because 
it seemed to me unmanly, and least of all, 
perhaps, my place to betray her past life. 
I was, I confess, utterly taken aback when I 
found Mrs Albany in your house, but when 
I yielded to her prayer for my silence in the 
very first evening I came, and passed my 
word to keep her secret, I little dreamed the 



A Gulf at His Feet. 163 

monstrous fraud slie would attempt to pre- 
vent my marriage. I, Clifford Brandon, only 
a few years ago her lover, with whom she 
left her husband and lived — " 

" Forsworn coward ! Liar to your teeth 1" 
Douglas broke in with a passion that shook 
him to the centre, " if even all your false 
story were true, no gentleman — no man — 
would have sheltered himself at the expense 
of betraying even his mistress ! Father — " 

Albany interposed, — 

" Mr Glen-Luna, I forbear to retaliate or 
take notice of your harsh words and instant 
belief in this charge, both because you are — " 

" I neither ask nor take even real, much 
less affected consideration for what I am 
now, Leicester Albany. I see all. I was 
suspicious of you from the first, as your 
wronged wife and my courier Harford very 
well know. I know well enough that * good ' 
introductions can be bought by such men 
as you, like all else, and I tell you that if I 
had been what I was before the accursed 



164 A Gulf at His Feet. 

hour in which I saved your worthless life, 
you would never have set foot across my 
father's threshold." 

" And now," said Sir Arthur, pointing 
sternly to the door, " cross it once more and 
for ever, Mr Albany. I have been blind, 
deceived, and why your wife did not at 
once speak I do not now ask. No, Adeline, 
not a word. Nor you, sir. Your very de- 
fence, as my son truly says, damns your 
veracity. And nothing but this lady's own 
confession (if that) would make old Arthur 
Glen-Luna believe that she was anything 
but purity itself, or had ever been anything 
but wedded wife to any living man ! " 

Now for the first time the firm hand still 
pressed on Douglas's shoulder trembled ; 
for the first time the stern set lips quivered, 
but she mastered even that slight mark of 
emotion as Albany said haughtily, — 

" Common justice, Sir Arthur, would 
better become a Glen-Luna than a high- 
sounding sentiment from you and your own 



A Gulf at His Feet. 165 

son, a defence of the lady which, to the 
most impartial ear, can hardly be much to 
her credit. I ask you in my turn to chal- 
lenge her most audacious claim, ask her for 
her proofs that I am other than Clifford 
Brandon ; has she any paper, any likeness 
of this Leicester Albany 1 " 

" I will answer those questions direct, my 
husband," said his wife steadily; and, do 
what he would, he drew back a step and 
dropped his insolent gaze before the stead- 
fast look of those magnificent eyes. " It 
was your knowledge that I had destroyed 
all such papers and likeness of you which 
put this foul scheme to win a rich bride into 
your brain. I told you this in London, 
that I would foil you, that you should never 
wreck in any way another young life as you 
have mine. Yet you dared, with money 
won at play, and how else you best know, 
to carry out your plan, trusting that you 
could foil me. You came here, saw me 
drive j)ast with Mr Gh^n-Lunn, and sent me 



1 66 A Gulf at His Feet, 

a letter under a subterfuge. I met you that 
once in the park that night, with the dog 
for my protection " — how Douglas started 
at that — "and you swore then that if I 
betrayed your identity you would repudiate 
me as your wife and claim me as your 
mistress. I shrank from that at that 
moment. I wanted to gain time, and I 
played a part. I feigned to yield, made 
the compact, and let you in your folly 
dream that you were secure, that I would 
actually stand by and suffer you to go 
through the worse than farce of wedding 
Jessie Glen-Luna. Fool ! You at least 
should have known me better. For your 
identity as Leicester Albany, money and 
time can prove it. There are men in San 
Francisco who will surely remember the 
tragedy ihere^ and swear to both of us ; 
there are men at Monaco who — " 

" Stop child," exclaimed Sir Arthur, and 
Douglas touched her lips, "you shall not, 
need not, defend yourself; he has con- 



A Gulf at His Feet. 167 

demned himself, and it is he must prove, 
not you. For you, sir, you have dared to 
offer to my child and her family the grossest 
insult, the most foul betrayal, of which a 
man could be guilty ! In an hour a carriage 
shall be ready to take you to the station." 

He turned his back upon him, and rang 
the bell, but though Adeline, who long ago 
had covered her face weeping, Leicester 
Albany as he went out of the library to 
his own apartment, foiled, scorned, beaten 
back, for the time blinded with baffled fury, 
yet knew that one in that house dared not, 
could not, now join against him, and would 
not if she could. 

They must walk the dangerous ground 
together once and for all. 





CHAPTEE XIV. 



AFTER THE STORM ; A THREATENING SKY STILL. 




iT will break Jessie's heart," sobbed 
Lady Glen-Luna, as the dooi" 
closed behind Leicester Albany. 
"It is a horrible dream! — it cannot be 
true ! I don't know what to think or say ! 
I am distracted ! " 

Douglas's lip curled, and Gabrielle Al- 
bany, picking up the rent parchment, said, 
sternly, — 

"Jessie had better thank God for the 
narrow escape she has had, even if that 
man had been free to wed. I could wish 
my bitterest foe no worse fate than to be 
Leicester Albany's wife. Sir Arthur, to 



After the Storm, etc. 169 

you and your son I am more indebted than 
I can speak." The voice faltered, and she 
turned hurriedly, put her hands on the 
wheel-chair and moved it towards the door. 
All her thought and attention was for her 
charge again — if, indeed, for one moment it 
had ever been secondary ; for him she still 
bore up ; and as the footman opened the 
door in answer to the bell they passed out 
into the hall, and thence through the long 
corridor back to the west wing, whece 
Harford was waiting — a little to her sur- 
prise. 

" I was not far off, madame," he said 
quietly. " I knew what might happen 
when that waste paper was signed, and 
thought it best to be near. She told me 
all, sir, nights ago." 

And then the lift went up, and once more 
they were back in their own domain, and 
Douglas moved to his sofa. He was ex- 
hausted — for the fierce tempest cannot 
sweep over the land and leave it scathless, 



1 70 After the Storm ^ etc. 

and for him there was all the added agony 
of knowing how she — the woman he loved 
— suffered, of knowing that such a despic- 
able yet impassable barrier stood between 
them. 

" Gabrielle — Gabrielle, if you had but 
told me at the first ! " he said, passionately, 
as Harford left them. 

Her breast heaved, she struggled desper- 
ately for a minute for control, then dropped 
suddenly to her knees beside the couch, and 
burst into wild terrible weeping — ay, tears 
such as men sometimes weep. All the long 
suppressed, long crushed, pent up weight of 
months gathered up now and broke over 
every dyke and swept all before it but the 
one sense of honour — of wifehood. 

No word dared Douglas trust himself to 
speak, save the silent language he could not 
help, the silence, the soft touch of his hand 
to her head, her brow, that both spoke such 
a volume of love — a deep loyal love that 
could bear, suffer with her suffering, but 



After the Storm, etc. 1 7 1 

never sully, never wound, and presently 
she grew more calm. 

" Forgive me," she whispered brokenly 
at last, " it was for your sake — forgive 
me." 

And then she kissed his hand, and rising 
went out of the room, leaving him alone- — 
to bury his face from the light that seemed 
to mock his fierce agony — and yet through 
all his guardian angel gathered out of the 
chaos of passion and misery the one 
wild prayer, *' Give me strength to 
bear all — without sin against Thee and 
her I love ! " 

Was ever such cry for help cast back 
unheard on the agonised human heart ? 
We know it never is — never — never to all 
eternity. 

It was a strange and utterly unlooked 
for story that Chandos Neville and Sister 
Eose had to learn, when later they 
came ; and then Eose put her arms round 



172 After the Sto7^m^ etc. 

Gabrielle and held her close — close for 
minutes. 

*/ My darling ! — my poor child ! — God 
help you to be loyal still," she whispered, 
" for it is a hard battle for both of you." 

Ah, who knew that so well as they did 
who had the battle to fight out unto the 
end ? 

While Leicester Albany, declining the 
services of Sir Arthur's valet, was packing 
his portmanteau, a letter was brought him 
from Lady Glen-Luna. He smiled, sneer- 
ingly, as he broke it open. 

" I cannot believe Mrs Albany's story, 
though I am obliged to go with the tide, 
apparently — go away they shall not. Take 
your ticket to London, but stop at Lang- 
bourne ; go to the inn near the station, under 
some nom-de-guerre, and meet me to- 
morrow night at twelve in the park, at the 
spot where Jessie introduced you to Douglas. 
Langbourne is only three miles, but be very 
careful, for Harford goes there often to see* 



After the Storm, etc. 173 

a sick sister, and will certainly go shortly 
before Thursday — perhaps on the Wednes- 
day before it." 

" Eh, hien ! my lady ; you shall be 
obeyed," muttered Albany ; " whichever you 
believe, you know that you must keep my 
side of the fence. Death ! We can have 
vengeance if all were lost. And it is not. 
Free I can get Jessie to elope, and these 
broad lands must come to her. Ten thou- 
sand curses on Gabrielle, and the day her 
beauty tempted me ! " 

As the words were uttered there sud- 
denly flashed across him the memory of 
the words that that beautiful wife had 
spoken once when he had threatened that 
which he had now done, — " God of Justice 
hear me, this man's most wronged, most 
miserable wife, call down Thy just venge- 
ance on his deeds." 

He remembered her look, her very accent, 
and shuddered for one second, then muttered 
a blasphemous oath. He cared " not for 



1 74 After the Storm, etc, 

God or for devil — if there were either ! " 
He would have revenge and foil Gabrielle 
yet. 

Ah, me ! but curses come home to roost. 

Long after a brougham had taken him to 
the station Lady Constance and the two 
girls returned from town. Hyacinth after- 
wards told Chandos that the moment she 
entered the house she felt that something 
had happened, though she had never in the 
least looked for anything so terrible as the 
truth. 

Jessie went into violent hysterics. The 
girl liked " Clifford Brandon," and not un- 
naturally, even in her hysterics, declared 
her belief in his story, and hate of that 
" horrible Mrs Albany." Indeed, so long 
continued were Jessie's hysterics that both 
Sir Arthur and her mother— who dared 
not whisper to her yet one word that she 
was on his side too — were glad to remember 
that Dr Neville was in the west wing, and 
sent for him at once. He very soon put 



After the Storm, etc, 175 

an end to the hysterics, and ordered the 
exhausted patient to bed. 

Gossip was, of course, rife in the servants' 
hall. Sir Arthur had simply sent for the old 
housekeeper and told her to tell the servants 
that it had happily been discovered in time 
that Mr Brandon v^as not what he had 
appeared at all, but a thorough adventurer, 
and already a married man, and with this 
information speculation had food enough. 
The footman who had answered the librar}^ 
bell, and seen the torn deed, said he fancied 
that somehow it was either Mr Douglas 
or Mrs Albany who had found it out, and 
as to the dear dog, he never could bear that 
Mr Brandon, or my lady either, for that 
matter. Angus had just looked then as 
if for half a mind he'd pull Mr Brandon 
down. 

" I wish he had," said Marston, Douglas's 
own groom, who happened to be present, 
" for I'm sure he deserved it." Marston, 
putting two and two together, had a 



176 After the Storm, etc. 

shrewd idea, which came pretty near the 
truth, but he held his tongue discreetly 
till he should confide his idea to Harford. 
When he did so, the courier's grave, " You 
are right, Marston ; keep still the silence 
for which I must give you your due 
praise ; silence is golden. I shall tell the 
master and mistress," was sufficient reward 
to the man. He was dev^oted to his 
master and mistress, for Douglas's servants 
had long quite considered Gabrielle in that 
light, and a look, a word of praise, from 
either was more than gold. 




CHAPTER XV. 



DARK HOURS. 




.ONSTERNATION fell on Doring, 
to which, of course, the news 
from the Hall spread next day 
in a more or less garbled form, but the 
main facts they got, for a wonder, truly 
enough — that the dashing Clifford Brandon 
was a frightful scamp, a mere adventurer, 
and a married man into the bargain — so 
that there would be no marriage at Luna 
this time ; no wonder Miss Glen - Luna 
was ill. Then, of course, Mrs Orde and 
Miss Chattaway discovered that they had 
never quite liked the looks of that Mr 
Brandon — they were not at all surprised 

VOL. III. M 



1 78 Dark Hotirs. 

at the end of it all — the wretch ! they 
supposed it would not delay the departure 
of Mr Glen-Luna at all — oh no, why should 
it ? and Mrs Albany would take care of 
that, my dear. 

Poor Mrs Albany ! they had never for- 
given her for paying no heed to their 
venomous tongues. Then the new doctor 
from Manchester arrived at the Cedars, 
and gave the gossips another topic to 
wag their tongues over, and you may be 
sure they made the most of it. 

But who knew of that midnight meeting 
under the grand old trees ? who knew of 
the terrible compact made, the fell deed 
there matured — a deed so dark and des- 
perate, that it was scarcely possible to 
foresee and guard against it ? 

Chandos Neville — very anxious about 
both his charge and Gabrielle after such 
a trial as yesterday — drove up to the Hall 
earlier than usual on the Friday morning. 

*' 1 find you, Mrs Albany, looking very 



Dark Hours, 1 79 

much as if you needed my care as much 
as Douglas ; " said the physician, walking 
into the now much dismantled apartment. 
" I shall be very glad when Thursday 
comes." 

" God knows, so shall I ! " said Albany's 
wife, half under her breath ; " it is im- 
possible to feel one moment's rest or free- 
dom from deadly anxiety as long as we 
are under this roof. Ah, mon ami, don't 
look at me so reproachfully — he has just, 
been scolding me, Dr Neville, so much, for 
being over anxious about him, but I know 
too well what that man Leicester Albany 
is, what his accomplice is. I do not believe 
Leicester is in London — nor does Mr Glen- 
Luna ; and, after that lift accident and all 
that has followed, we all, bitter as it is, 
know too well what Lady Glen-Luna is. 
How can I feel easy for one moment on 
your account then ? " 

Douglas made no answer, but Chandos 
saw that his lips, his very teeth, were set 



1 80 Dark Hours, 

close. His anxiety for the woman he loved 
equalled hers for him. Neville asked — 

'* Have either of you any idea — any 
suspicion, then, what they are about, or 
intend to attempt ? " 

" No," said Douglas ; "we can only be 
on our guard ; the days will soon pass — 
only — oh, Chandos ! Chandos ! " he broke 
out suddenly, passionately — " it maddens 
me to be so helpless when she is in 
danger ! Why did you keep me back 
yesterday, Gabrielle ? I would have killed 
him where he stood ! " 

" And wrecked your own more than life 
for ever," she said, laying her hand on 
his. ** I kept you back to save you against 
yourself. For me, I could bear all ; but to 
see you suffer — get worse than ever — that 
would kill me ! I had never meant to 
speak till we had left England — but the 
tide rose too fast — circumstances put it 
beyond my entire control." 

** And," said Douglas, keeping her hand 



Dark Hours, i8i 

still in his clasp, " some suspicion of 
the truth had flashed across me, giving 
the keynote to many a little thing I 
had noticed and been puzzled by, fine 
actress as you were, but he did not act 
up to you." 

" I know that. Dr Neville, are you 
going to see Jessie to day ? " 

*' Presently ; when I have attended to 
Douglas. Where is Harford ? " 

Earely far from his master, Gabrielle 
rang the bell, and while they waited, 
Chandos said, — 

"By the way, Eose and I are going to 
dine as a farewell with the Eosslyns on 
Wednesday, at Eosslyn Grange. They 
wanted us to stay the night, but we de- 
clined that, as we are to join you here at ten 
on Thursday ; so we shall drive back, I sup- 
pose, between twelve and one. We can take 
the short cut through the Great Park, I 
suppose ? " 

" Oh yes ; T am glad you are going there ; 



1 82 Dark Hours, 

they are capital people. Tell my dear Eose 
not to flirt with Percy too much." 

" Ha, ha ! I'll tell her. Here comes Har- 
ford." 

" And my nainsell too," said a sweet voice 
behind the courier, and in walked Hyacinth 
Lee, flushing a little, but more with pleas- 
ure than baslifulness. "Here I am." 

Neville turned quickly, locking her hand 
in his, as Harford quietly wheeled his 
master into the dressing-room. 
' " My dear Hyacinth ! my darling ! this 
is unexpected." 

" Of course it is, you best of old fellows," 
but the sweet lips that tried to be saucy 
quivered, as he stooped to kiss them ; 
" though I ran up to see how dear Gabrielle 
and Mr Glen-Luna were, after — after that 
miserable yesterday." 

" Not what I would wish, my dear," he 
answered gravely ; " but I must go to him 
now." 

" And Hyacinth will stop with me till you 



Dark Hours. 1 83 

eome in again," said Mrs Albany quietly, as 
he passed out. 

" How is Jessie, ma chere ? " 

" Dear Gabrielle, please don't think me 
cruel, but I do not, cannot, believe that she 
is as broken-hearted as she fancies, or pre- 
tends, or is really ill enough to keep her 
room. Don't you think so ? " 

Mrs Albany put her two hands on the 
girl's shoulders, and the tears came heavih^ 
into the sorrowful, dark eyes that looked 
down on her. 

'' Hyacinth, you may perhaps think that 
my own terrible experience has seared me, 
has made me cynical — and so possibly it has ; 
nor is it to any but just yourself and those 
few here dear to both of us to whom I 
would speak, since it is my husband who 
has put such foul insult on Jessie Glen-Luna ; 
and T, his wife, knowing all, yet — no matter 
how urgent my reason — suffered the wrong 
to go so far that when of necessity the 
storm broke it could not break in secret. 



184 Dark Hours. 

But that Jessie's heart suffers would be to 
presuppose she has one, and for that she is 
too throughly her mother's child to fear. 
No girl with a woman's heart at all could 
possibly have neglected so utterly, so cruelly, 
such a man as her brother, ill and helpless 
as he was. That her vanity is wounded to 
the bottom, that she is chagrinee beyond 
measure at the sudden reversal of all her 
bridal visions I know, but feel no pity, no 
regret, hard as it may seem. But mark you, 
Hyacinth, if you had been the heiress 
selected, and I had dreamed for one moment 
that you could be attracted, you who have 
a heart to be won or broken — or both — I 
call Heaven to witness that the night I met 
Leicester Albany in this park my answer to 
his scheme and threat would have been to 
let loose upon him this dog at my feet. I 
would to Heaven that I had now ! " she said, 
with a dark look that startled Hyacinth. 

" Oh, Gabrielle ! don't, don't say that, 
dear ! It would have been murder ! " 



Dai^k Hours, 185 

" Would it, girl ? " said the other sternly ; 
" is blood for blood murder, or God's own 
law ? You do not know that man's life, or 
what is in his black heart now, as I do. Ah, 
Hyacinth, Hyacinth, your mother does not 
know what she is doing in trying to part 
you from such a man as Chandos Neville ; 
your marriage will be but passing from one 
happy, loving home, to another yet happier." 

And hers had been but the passing from 
a prison to a very hell. Woe had been the 
day that saw her a bride ! 




CHAPTEE XVI. 



NEVILLE S DEEAM IS FULFILLED. 




ELL, well ; so those days passed by, 
one by one, in that sort of lull 
which comes after a storm — and 
too often before another — a heavy mental 
atmosphere which weighed vaguely even 
on those who never even dreamed of all that 
lay under the surface of the waters. Jessie 
still kept her room and the heartbroken 
business, and eagerly accepted an invita- 
tion kindly sent by Lady Saltoun, to pay 
them a long visit the week after Douglas's 
departure abroad. 

Near him she never went, and begged 
that nobody should speak of '* that Mrs 



Nevilles Dream is fulfilled. 187 

Albany " in her presence, unless they meant 
to insult her. Lady Glen-Luna purred 
about as usual, mildly reproved her daughter 
for allowing her heart to blind her too much, 
and inquired tenderly each day, through Sir 
Arthur, after " dearest Douglas and Mrs 
Albany," adding sometimes with a soft sigh, 
that she was glad she " had not the respon- 
sibility of moving him in his critical state." 

Hyacinth was constantly with the tenants 
of the wxst wing, and drove out with them 
on the Tuesday. On the Wednesday "fhe 
travellers' luggage and the carriage and 
horses were sent on to town with Marston 
and James, to go straight on board the 
yacht. 

Wednesday ! their last evening, heavy, 
oppressive, brooding. In the afternoon, 
while Sir Arthur w^as chatting with his son 
and Gabrielle, Harford came in with a letter 
from his sister, Mrs Be van, who was much 
better, and, it being her brother's last even- 
ing in England for perhaps many months, 



iSS Neville s Dream is fulfilled. 

had asked in a few friends for a little fare- 
well meeting. Could Mr Douglas spare 
him, and, if so, might he bring Angus, with 
whom her two children had made such a 
playmate while he was at the old farrier's in 
Langbourue ? 

" Certainly, Harford ; " said Douglas cor- 
dially, " I am too glad for you to have a 
little pleasure ; take Angus by all means, 
and stop till the last train." 

" Oh no, sir ; that leaves at 11.30." 

** Eh^ hien ! mon clier,^' Douglas smiled and 
glanced significantly at Mrs Albany, '* I can 
spare you till twelve, or as late as you like. 
If you come before the last train, Harford, 
we shall not speak to you." 

Harford smiled, called the collie, who 
seemed rather loth to go, and retired. Half- 
an-hour later William Harford crossed the 
threshold of that west wing on his way to the 
station, and crossed it for the last time. 

His sister had got a little party together, 
but for all, the man was anxious and heavv 



Neville s Dream is fulfilled. 189 

at heart about those he had left, even for 
those few hours, and almost wished he had 
not come ; although, when, as it were, he 
reasoned it to himself, he though that their 
watchfulness must have foiled whatever in- 
tentions their foes had had. Still he was 
glad when the time came to take leave and 
step down to the station. 

The gate was shut, but the clerk was 
standing by and turned round. 

" You won't get back this way, Mr Har- 
ford, for two hours at least," said lie ; 
" they've just wired along the line there's 
been a slight accident ^nq miles up rail, and 
nothing can pass for two hours till they've 
cleared the road." 

" Malediction ! " said Harford strongly, 
and paused for a minute ; " well, I suppose 
that all this stupid little village is asleep by 
now { 

" Rather," said the clerk, showing his 
watch ; "a quarter to twelve may be your 
London hours, Mr Harford, but they aren't 



igo Nevilles Dream is fulfilled. 

ours you see. You miglit perhaps get a 
horse," — this dubiously. 

" Bah ! man, nothing so quick now as the 
Mary-]e-bone stage," returned the courier, 
swinging round. " Good night. I'll walk 
the three miles in quicker time than it'll take 
to shake a stick. This way, Angus ; home to 
the master, boy." 

The dog bounded off, the man stepped 
out at a swinging pace, more vexed, more 
vaguely uneasy than he dared to put into 
words, even to himself. 

It was a very dark night, but Harford 
knew every step of the way as well as in 
broad day, and, moreover, meant to get 
over the park palings, and make a short 
cut. But presently, long before he neared 
that point, the dog suddenly stopped, 
whined uneasily, looking in Harford's face 
with eyes that all but spoke, then pulled 
his hand, ran a few paces quickly, whined 
piteously again, and while the man's face 
blanched, and his very heart sickened with 



Nevilles Dream is fulfil led. 191 

deadly apprehension, the collie threw up 
his head with one wild, prolonged bay, and 
sprang forward at full speed. 

" My God ! they have been murdered, 
and the dog's instinct knows it ! " broke 
from Harford's livid lips, and he sprang 
madly forwards. 

But all his speed could not by a hundred- 
fold equal that of the dog ; he heard him 
for a few minutes crashing through the 
grass and underwood, and then even that 
was lost. 

On, on, in the terrible race, for he knew 
not what, it may be life or death or only 
to gain time, but dogs have presentiments, 
and Angus had gone. Harford gains the 
park ; he is over the paling, high as it is ; 
there is still a long distance between him 
and those two he has left, and his flying 
steps seem to himself as if weighted with 
lead. Great Heaven ! what is that sound 
that suddenly booms out over the still, 
darkened country — one heavy stroke ? only 



192 Nevilles Drea^n is fulfil led. 

one, that for the second seems almost to 
paralyse him, only one stroke of the alarm 
bell in the west wing ! 

Chandos Neville and Sister Kose dined 
that evening, as he had said, at the Koss- 
lyns', and a most pleasant evening they spent. 

" They are such nice people," said Rose, 
leaning back in their phaeton as, somewhere 
about eleven, it drove off, "homeward 
bound." 

" Very. And poor Percy is so furious 
with that villain — you see he introduced 
him — that he swears he'll have him black- 
balled at the Polyglot at once. Rose, I 
fancy that Colonel Rosslyn half guesses 
that he is Mrs Albany's husband. I wish 
to-morrow was well over, and so, I am 
sure, does she." 

** Poor young thing," said Rose, in deep 
pity, " her burthen is too heavy to be 
borne long. The anxiety of this last week 
especially has been terrible ! " 



Neville s Dream is fulfilled. 193 

" I wish to Heaven ! " said Neville 
strongly, " that she had put a bullet into 
the scoundrel in California ! only it would 
have been too quick a death for him." 

" Qh, hush, Chandos ; blood is an awful 
thing to have on one's head." 

" I don't think his would have lain heavy 
on Gabrielle's, Eose ; and I don't see why 
it should. Men morally forfeit the right 
to life for some things which law reckons 
less than life." 

" Yes, dear," said Rose ; '' but it is a 
dangerous precedent for each individual 
to begin deciding where that moral right 
is forfeited and where it remains existent." 

" H'm," said Chandos, " you must argue 
that out with Gabrielle, sweet sister mine ; 
I think if ever a reptile deserved putting 
out of the world, it is Leicester Albany." 

"So do I, my dear, but it is not for any 
one of us individually to do it ; unless, of 
course, in self defence, as poor Gabrielle 
shot that other villain. Where are we 

VOL. III. N 



194 Nevilles Dream is fulfilled, 

now ? Did you tell John to take the cut 
through Luna Park ? " 

" Yes ; he knows the right turning to 
take, luckily, for, it is such a dark night. 
I wonder wherabouts we are exactly ? " 

" Not very far from the approach to this 
extremity of the park, I should think," 
remarked Sister Eose ; "see if you can 
tell, Chandos. Are those the trees of the 
Owl's Wood ? " 

Neville looked up. 

" Why we have just passed into the 
park ! " he said. " One of the gamekeepers 
must have seen the carriage coming, for 
he is shutting the gate behind us. We 
shall soon be out of the wood." 

" I wish," said Rose, " that we could 
metaphorically get as easily out of the 
wood ; I suppose — I hope — by this time 
to-morrow we shall be on the yacht * over 
the deep blue waters. 

*' I hope so, dear Rose, but — Aha ! 
Merciful Heaven ! what is that ? " 



Neville s Dream is fulfilled. 195 

The same awful sound — the one deep, 
heavy boom of that alarm-bell, like one 
clarion note of death, heard right in Doring, 
startling those whose duty kept them 
watching, rousing those who slept, heard 
far and near, miles off, yet in the very ear, 
that one stroke sounded like one last cry 
of despair. 

*' Drive for your life, man ! " Neville 
cried, standing right up in the phaeton, 
while Kose sat white and motionless ; '* drive- 
for life and death, for something awful has 
happened at the Hall ! " 

On ! on ! Are the minutes weighted with 
lead, and each second draorg-ed into an 
hour ? Does that fearful nicrhtmare dream 
of his long ago come suddenly back to 
Chandos Neville now — that dream of a 
surging crowd and thick darkness like a 
wall. Saints above ! Is that it now rolled 
out before his gaze, away ahead in the 
direction of the Hall ? Is that a mass of 
dense, black clouds — on, nearer, nearer. 



ig6 Neville s Dream is fulfilled. 

Do clouds lower so low and roll over like that 
an great black volumes, or glow with, such 
lurid light behind them? Do clouds ever 
shoot up such a sudden, frightful glare 
against the sky as — 

" Eose ! Great God ! the west wing is 
ON FIRE ! " 




CHAPTER XVII. 



DOOMED. 




HE evening, after Harford had 
gone, closed in heavy and lower- 
ing, and the night came on 
intensely dark and strangely oppressive. 
Within, the beautiful rooms looked utterly 
desolate and forlorn ; the books were gone 
— the piano, pictures, statues — all those 
exquisite works of art which the refined 
and artistic taste of the master's cultured 
mind had gathered about him had been 
removed under his or Gabrielle's own super- 
vision. Nothing remained but the elegant 
furniture, the graceful hangings, and the 
masses of flowers. 



198 Doomed. 

After Sir Arthur bade good-night, and 
left them, Gabrielle had presently asked 
Douglas if she should read aloud — she 
had kept one or two books at hand — she 
knew well by her own heart that the 
storm within was but outwardly suppressed, 
not crushed ; ay, more, that a world of 
anxiety and excitement — a very chaos of 
feelings — were surging in heart and brain. 

"No, thanks, cheve Gabrielle," he an- 
swered. '' I could not attend, I can only 
think — think — oh, Gabrielle, why does 
time go on such leaden wings sometimes ? " 

She turned at that from the window 
where she had stood, and came to his side. 
She had noted this hour past how restless 
he was — scarcely ten minutes in exactly 
the same position — noted that more than 
once he put his hand to his head, with a 
look of utter weariness and pain. She saw 
even now the passionate movement as he 
spoke, and the crimsoned flush of excite- 
ment on the bronzed cheeks, the bright 



Doomed, 199 

glitter in the dark eyes that looked into 
hers. 

"This will not do, mon ami" she said, 
laying her soft fingers on his brow, " your 
head is aching, I know," — how steady the 
low pathetic tones fell — how the woman's 
passionate heart within was beating fast 
and heavy, — " I shall have you too unwell 
to-morrow to travel if — " 

" Gabrielle ! Gabrielle ! it is for you — 
you, for your safety, that I am on the 
rack, because I am so helpless to save if 
he—" 

Her hand on his lips stayed the wild 
torrent that was such torture, yet such 
happiness, to hear, which might yet carry 
one or both too far. 

" You must not, shall not rack yourself 
for me — for my sake you must presently 
try to sleep. I shall not let you stay here 
till Harford returns, for Dr Neville said I 
was not to let you be too late to-night." 

" But—" 



200 Doomed. 

" No ' buts/ " she interposed, with a 
faint smile ; "at eleven I shall wheel you 
into your dressing-room, and transfer you 
to the large couch there. You must enforce 
rest on that aching brain of yours — if only 
because I wish it." 

Douglas looked at her a moment, and 
his breast heaved as he turned aside. Was 
it sin to love that grand-hearted woman as 
he loved her? Was it shame to her that 
he knew he held that heart all his own ? 
If it were, was the sin theirs, or on the 
head of those who had woven such a 
w^eb? 

" You need rest far more than I do," he 
said. " I wish I had not let Harford go — 
or the dog." 

How her very heart echoed the wish ! 
She had never before felt so heavy a feel- 
ing of foreboding and dread. But when 
eleven struck she opened the dressing- 
room door, and wheeled the chair in, up to 
the wide, soft couch. 



Doomed. 201 

" I have let you sit up too long, I fear," 
she said, as he sank back amongst the 
cushions. 

" No, you have not. Now leave me, my 
dear, and go to rest yourself." 

" Not yet. I shall be in the next room, 
for you wont even close your eyes while I 
am here, you bad boy." 

He laughed a little ; but instead of 
leaving him she fetched her eau-de-cologne 
and bathed his forehead, and wetted the 
rich clusters of curly locks, passing her hand 
softly through them as she had done after 
that accident to the lift ; knowing the 
power that lay in her touch, and under its 
magic the restless excitement calmed down, 
leaving the pain and weariness to assert 
their sway ; the hand that had clasped hers 
relaxed its hold, the long silky lashes 
drooped, the dark eyes closed, and Douglas 
Glen- Luna sank, first into an uneasy, rest- 
less slumber, then — rare thing for him — into 
a deep sleep, unconscious even of the form 



202 Doomed. 

that bent over him for a moment — of the 
prayer that went up. 

" Let me die for him if need be, but, 
Father above, not him ! not him ! " Then 
Gabrielle closed the windows — for it had 
grown chill enough now — and passing into 
the salon shut the inner door and both 
those windows, too, and then threw herself 
on the sofa and buried her face. 

" Oh, Douglas, Douglas ! I am vanquished 
utterly ! Sin, shame, misery, it must be ; 
but this broken heart can only love thee for 
ever and for ever." 

Crushed by the weight that lay on her, 
worn out by anxiety and suffering, she lay 
there like a stricken thing until at last, 
unawares, sorrow and weariness joined hands 
with oblivion and stole upon her heavily — it 
might have been for an hour, it might have 
been more, perhaps ; but at last there came 
into her troubled sleep — if such it could be 
called — a painful weight as of a hand pressed 
over her breast, impeding breathing, a vague 



Doomed. 203 

darkened dream, a great noise in her ears 
like the hum of thousands and thousands of 
bees, and the baying of a dog through all. 
She struggled, moved, flung out her arms, 
and, with such a smothered cry as had 
never escaped her before, sprang to her feet ; 
no dream or fancy ! The dog Angus was 
scratching and baying madly at the door 
giving on to the corridor, and the room was 
filling with smoke that came curling in, it 
seemed, at every corner and aperture. The 
next second her hand was on the door, 
wrenching it wide, to be almost beaten back 
for one moment by black volumes of smoke 
that rushed in with the faithful animal, 
whose frantic baying had awoke her. 

" My God I the building is on fire ! " A 
thousand lives of agony seemed crowded 
into those next few moments ! Above, 
below, near, far, the awful roar was in her 
ears, in the air, in the blinding smoke, 
through which tongues of flame leaped up 
at the far end of the long corridor. One 



204 Doomed. 

thought only filled the heart and brain that 
never for one second lost their power, but 
rather rose up suddenly stronger a hundred- 
fold — Douglas — that helpless form within 
the inner room. Close to the door the 
alarm-bell hung ; she stepped outside, hold- 
ing her breath against the choking smoke, 
and seized the thick silk cord in a grasp like 
a man's ! One desperate pull — one heavy 
stroke from the great alarm-bell above the 
roof — and the cord came rattling down to 
the floor, cut through higher up. 

" Angus — thy master ! " 

Back to the inner door, into the room. 
Merciful Heaven ! it was full of smoke — the 
floor, the further wall — the very air all 
heated ; but she felt, knew, saw nothing 
but that one loved, helpless form, half lifted 
now on the couch with wide-open eyes, as 
she sprang to his side — all barriers gone — 
forgotten in that awful moment on the brink 
of a terrible death. 

" Douglas ! Douglas ! for God's sake 



Doomed, 205 

come — there is time to save you ! they have 
fired the rooms below and the flames are 
upon us — " 

In that cry all the woman's passionate 
love went out to him ; in his answer, spoke 
the whole wealth of the man's as he 
stretched out one arm to try and put her 
back. 

" There is death in every second's delay. 
Leave me ! Save yourself while there is 
yet time ! Leave me, I say, Gabrielle ! I 
can die ; but, Holy Heaven ! I caTinot see 
thee perish for me, my one love, my heart's 
life!'' 

"I will live or perish with you, I swear 
by that God who alone can give me strength 
to save us both ! " she said, grasping the 
arm he had put out with a strength that 
was a man's, not a woman's. " Stand up ! 
into the chair, or I will lift you. I will not 
leave you. Do you hear that crash % " 

The flooring of Harford's room behind had 
given way, and an absolute rush of roaring 



2o6 Doomed, 

as the flames leaped up through the gap 
they had made. Douglas in that moment 
had raised himself, resting on her shoulder, 
and stepped into the chair. 

" On, Angus, Gabrielle ! Oh, my darling, 
you should have escaped ; but now — " 

In under the further door the smoke 
poured, and, as Gabrielle wheeled the chair 
through the salon, the flooring of the 
dressing-room buckled, cracked, and fell in 
with a roar like thunder. 

On, on now 1 the fire is gaining on them 
every half-second ; the flames seem bursting 
through everywhere ! They are coming on 
behind as they gain the corridor — leaping 
up, licking the walls, as if they were revel- 
ling like mad devils on the hideous work 
they did — wrapping the floor of the corridor 
step by step in its rapid advance, as it burst 
through the oaken boards ; the heat almost 
scorches the fugitives, and Gabrielle glances 
behind ; the dog has reached the wide stone 
staircase in which lies her only hope. If life 



Doomed. 207 

were to last a thousand years they could 
never forget that awful moment. 

" Gabrielle, my heart, leave me ! You 
cannot get this chair down those stairs ! 
The flames below are almost licking the 
balustrade ; your strength — " 

" Can save you or die with you. Hold 
fast," came the answer, as the firm hands 
grasped the handle like a vice and drove the 
chair to the stairhead. 

On ! on ! behind roared those merciless 
flames, roaring, thirsting for those two lives ! 
Onward went that noble w^oman, down the 
stairway, step by step, keeping the chair on 
its two back wheels, the guiding-wheel in 
mid-air, with a strength that surely God 
gives to some in such moments, never for 
one second losing her steady calm, her 
perfect presence of mind, though every 
moment some falling beam or crash behind 
might well have made the boldest quail. 
Now the dense volumes of smoke envelop 
them, and a new tongue of flame leaps up to 



2o8 Doomed, 

her left, while those behind seem almost to 
reach and scorch her dress ; seem, she 
cannot, dare not, look back now, but sets 
her teeth and moves still onward ; hurry she 
cannot, or she might precipitate her precious 
charge below. Have the flames reached the 
head of the staircase yet — wrapped the 
massive stanchions which support them at 
the top? They must by this time — they 
must be burning now. God of mercy ! is 
that hall-door below closed ? is there no 
help near, within or without ? Are those 
distant shouts and cries that come to their 
ears through all the frightful roar of the fire ? 
Is that a woman's shriek, somewhere far 
below, it seemed ? Is that other a human 
yell, a man's frantic shriek of despair, cry- 
ing that the shutter bar has fallen, and he 
cannot escape ? Do they dream all this in 
those few awful minutes on that stairway, 
or is it all a hideous reality ? Ha I another 
crash — the dog utters a yell of terror and 
dashes forward — he has kept a step ahead 



Doomed. 209 

till now — a rush of blessed fresli air comes 
up through all the fierce heat — she gains 
the last few stairs, reaches the hall — the 
open hall-door — hears a roar — a crash like a 
thousand thunders behind as the whole 
staircase falls into the seething flames that 
seize their prey, hears a strange hum and 
cries — sees, as in a dream, the fire-engines 
and a surging crowd, a fierce glare of light, 
and dear familiar faces — Harford, and Sir 
Arthur, hear Chandos Neville's — "God be< 
thanked ! Douglas is saved ! " and the 
fearful tension, the desperate strength, gives 
way ; she hears a wild cheer — knows that 
Harford takes the chair from her — and then 
all is sudden darkness. Neville lifts her, in 
a dead swoon, in his arms, and bears her 
away after Harford and the man she has 
saved. 

Play the engines, but keep back the 

crowd ; let not the boldest go near the 

burning pile, which no mortal hand can 

save ; for inside and out the west wing is 

VOL. III. o 



2 1 o Doomed. 

blazing, the flames are leaping higher and 
higher — they crash the glasses, the windows 
fall in — they wrap the wall, mount to the 
roof, laughing; disdain at the columns of 
w^ater, that can save the rest, but not rob 
them of their prey. 

Ha ! hark to that ! A roar like a whole 
park of artillery — and the crowd gives out 
a shout — a yell of wild excitement — as 
the whole roof comes crashing in on the 
seething mass below. They may get the fire 
under now, perhaps ; it has done its work 
of destruction, and of God's own vengeance 
— though no one knows that yet ; no one 
knows for an hour or more that of those 
who have done this aw^ful deed one is 
lying scorched and senseless in the cor- 
ridor, to which, barely escaping, she had 
dragged her burnt, maimed limbs ; and 
the other — ah, who but that Heaven he 
had dared so lonor saw that frantic beino- 
blinded with the smoke, scorched with the 
flames, beating in fierce despair against the 



Doo7iied. 



21 I 



shuttered windows and door he could not 
find — who heard that maddened cry as the 
bhizing pile came crashing down — down ? 
Only He who hath said once and for all 



tmie, — 



' Vengeance is mine : I will repay." 




CHAPTEE XYIIL 



AFTEE THE FIRE. 




|HE is coming round at last, Eose ; 
and I must go back to Lady 
Glen-Luna. You had better 
tell her, dear." 

As one hears voices and words in a dream, 
so those words reached Gabrielle Albany's 
ear as the door closed behind the physician ; 
and she started half up on the sofa on which 
they had laid her — started up with a wild, 
dazed look in her large, dark eyes for a 
moment, and hurried words. 

"Tell me what? Tell me the truth, 
Eose. Douglas — where is he ? " 

" My darling, safe and well in the next 



After the Fire. 2 i 3 

room to tills." Sister Eose bent over lior 
directly. "He has been attended to well, 
and Harford and Sir iVrthur are with him. 
You shall go to him presently, but first — " 

"Yes; tell me, tell me," Gabrielle inter- 
rupted, but she shivered from head to foot, 
and put her hand to her brow as if to 
shut out some terrible sight, "why has your 
brother gone back to Lady Glen-Luna ? Oh, 
Rose ! oh. Rose ! I heard such a shriek below ! 
— then another! — aery! — a man s cry! Oh, 
Rose; shall we ever o;et this nig:ht out of ou*r 
siorht and hearino* ? " She cowered down on 

o o 

the cushions with a strong shudder. " Was 
it lono: ao;o ? Have I been here lonsj ? " 

" A long, long time, my dear." The 
sweet voice shook beyond her power to 
steady — the end she had to tell was such 
a terrible retribution. Mrs Albany raised 
herself ag:ain. 

"I am quite myself, Rose," she said 
slowly ; " there is too much to be borne and 
done for me to give way more than once. 



2 1 4 After the Fire. 

It is in your face. Why lias Dr Neville 
gone to Lady Glen-Luna ? " 

" Because," said Eose Neville, j^ressing 
lier hands against her breast, " she was 
found lying in the corridor leading from 
the west wdng hall to the main building — 
lying there senseless — and — and — so fright- 
fully burnt — so maimed and injured, that 
( 'handos says she cannot live many hours. 
Hyacinth and Lady Constance are w^ith 
her, but w^hen her mother broke into rav- 
ing, Jessie was carried out fainting, and 
(/handos sent Sir Arthur away. We must 
spare him, if possible, the fearful revela- 
tions her ravings make ! " 

" Go on," said Gabrielle hoarsely ; *' I 
know what those revelations are. Where 
is the other ? " 

Eose put her hand on Mrs Albany's 
shoulder, struo-glino; to steadv her own 
agitation. 

" My child, his sin has overtaken him 
in its midst. That cry you heard must 



After the Fire, 2 1 5 

have been his. The firemen found in the 
ruins the remains — burnt, crushed — " 

" Oh, my God ! " 

She covered her face and buried it in 
the cushions, so still for a long time that 
it scarcely seemed as if she even breathed ! 
But, oh, who but heaven could know the 
wild tempest of contending emotions that 
swept and racked the woman's soul in those 
minutes of outward stillness — horror at his 
crowning deed and fearful fate — a stern 
sense of its just vengeance — bitterness ; 
but not one flash, not one memory that 
could stir the most momentary regret that 
her bondage was snapped asunder — only 
above and through all the wild, passionate 
sense, that she was free — free at last ! — 
that Douglas Glen-Luna's bitter foes were 
swept away. 

Her first words was a whispered question. 

" Does Douglas know ? " 

" All, my poor child ; they all know." 
' Where are we, Eose ? " 



2 1 6 After the Fire. 

" In the east wino;." 

Gabrielle rose up, walked to the end of 
the room, and came back. 

" And where is — is the dead man ? " 

"They have taken him to the lodge, 
my dear. There is Harford at the door 
again." 

Galiriellc opened it herself, and faced the 
courier. The next moment her two hands 
were closed in his. and his face was bowled 
on them. It was minutes before either 
mistress or servant could speak, and then 
Harford's voice was almost a whisper. 

" Will you see him now ? Sir Arthur 
has just gone u]^ again to his wife's room." 

Davliofht coming; on without looked in 
on haggard, ghastly faces ; but she passed 
out at once, and stole to the next room. 
The first meeting must come, and why 
not now ? 

Douglas was lying on a sofa, and the 
faithful dog who had warned them of the 
danger sat with his head laid on his 



After the Fire. 2 1 7 

master's feet, only whining and wagging 
his tail as his mistress entered. Ah, poor 
heart ! she had meant to be so brave, so 
calm, so controlled — to forget the words 
that both had uttered when the world 
seemed lost, — but for both, their strength 
had reached its tether of control. 

The light flashed up in those, deep, grey 
eyes — her name to his lips. 

" Gabrielle ! My preserver ! My heart ! " 
The next moment she was kneeling at his 
side, her slight form locked in his arms, 
her face hidden in his breast, with such 
deep convulsive weeping as no control or 
tenderest soothing could arrest for many 
minutes. Nature herself had at last as- 
serted her power against all the long months 
— yes, years — of sufl*ering and self-sup- 
pression, and would not be said nay. 

He made no efl'ort to check them, knowing 
that it was best so, but only, with the ex- 
quisite tact and infinite tenderness of his 
great love, soothed by touch of his hand — 



2 1 8 After the Fire. 

of liis lips to her brow, as she presently lay 
still and exhausted on his breast — ^^the touch 
that was no sin now, the noble heart on 
which she might alone rest now and for 
ever. 

" After all that has passed, my darling," 
his soft voice came at last, " it is better 
for us both, in the position we must hold 
yet for many months — to put aside the 
feeling that would have sway, and under- 
stand each other at once. I loved you 
almost before I knew it, Gabrielle, and 
then — then — God be my witness how I 
fought against it, and how could I — I 
could not send you from me back into the 
cold, wide world to suflfer yet more, and if 
I had you would have read my secret — " 

" Not yours alone for long, mon coeur,'' 
she whispered, without moving ; "I read 
it all too soon by my own heart. How 
could I help loving you when — when you 
were — oh, Douglas, Douglas ! God forgive 
me ! I was but a human being." 



After the Fire. 2 r 9 

" Hush, my heart ! that is passed, and 
the future is to come. I may hold you now 
to this heart, mine for ever, my wife — and 
for your sake and mine this must at once 
be understood between us, painful as it is 
to speak of at such a time as this ; but, 
sweetheart, your position to me, and even 
more when we go abroad, would be unbear- 
able for you — ay, for us both, unless it 
is understood between us, and those dear 
ones who are with us, that you are my 
promised wife, to be wedded as soon it^ 
I can walk from the door of a church to 
its altar. To the world without still my 
attendant, but to us— heart's dearest, am 
I not right?" A low whispered "Yes," 
as she lifted her face to his for a moment, 
and then on those dear lips Douglas pressed 
one long, passionate kiss, sealing her his 
own for ever. 

And in that room above the woman who 
had wrought so dark a deed lies dying in 



220 After the Fire. 

such frightful agony that Horror itself 
shrank back before Pity ; a sight as fearful 
to look upon as for ear to hear her ravings. 
Then had come the stupor of exhaustion and 
torture, in which Chandos had just returned 
for a few minutes to his other charges. 
When he got back the wretched sufferer was 
raving again, and the first intelligible words 
they caught were for the last person they 
would have thought. 

" Fetch that handsome woman who said 
he was her husband. I will see Mrs. 
Albany ! I will ! I will, I tell you. Hasn't 
the fire that's burning here^iere, burnt up 
her and Douorlas ! Some one said she saved 
him, curse her ! Fetch her, you, then. 
Hyacinth ! Ha ! don't look at your lover, 
girl, I will see her." 

"Fetch Mrs Albany, Hyacinth," said 
Neville quietly. " Lady Constance, will 
you kindly replace this bandage while I hold 
her ? Hush, Lady Glen-Luna, I must hold 
you," for she had struggled in her delirium. 



After the Fire. 2 2 1 

" I won't have Jessie here, mind you ; or 
Arthur, or — take the fire away ! it's burning 
my brain out, and here ! the bed is on fire 
and Clifford is sneering;. She was his mis- 
tress — not his wife — no, no. Ha ! she 
comes to taunt me, too, with that mocking 
scorn of hers." 

Into the room came Gabrielle Albany, 
crlanced from the mother and dauohter — 
who followed her in — to the physician, and 
advanced without a change of face that 
could betray how startled she was at the 
sight before her ; scarcely recognisable for 
the once pretty little Adeline Glen-Luna. 

" You sent for me, Lady Glen-Luna," 
said the mellow tones, gently, " what can I 
do for you ? " 

The glittering eyes stared up in that 
beautiful face with a fierce glare that 
seemed half of sanity, half delirium. 

" Do ! I. want to ask you some questions 
I — " Neville touched Lady Constance and 
signed to Hyacinth with a quick, quiet — 



2 2 2 After the Fire. 

" Will you kindly see how Miss Glen- 
Luua is now ? " Whatever the dying 
woman might say he dared not leave her. 

" Ha!" she cried out, " do you think they 
don't know what it all means ? Look you, 
Mrs Albany, do you know why I put you, 
with all your beauty and fascination, with 
Douglas Glen-Luna ? " 

She knew now what was coming, and as 
if — Chandos felt — in mute and touching 
appeal to his chivalrous feeling, she rested 
one hand heavily on his shoulder as he sat 
by the bedside, and answered, — 

'' I know." 

"Ha! I reckoned well, then; at any 
rate you know he loved you — loves you 
now — will love you, and break his heart for 
you to the end of his miserable, crippled 
life — you — another man's wife — " 

" Heaven ! this is too much/' muttered 
Neville, starting, but her voice stayed 
him. 

" I know that." 



After the Fire. 223 

" Ha ! And you love him ! you love 
him ! You dare not deny it — in shame and 
misery you love him — you, Leicester Al- 
bany's wife ! " 

The blood flushed over the proud, statu- 
esque face, but left it instantly ; her answer 
came sternly — slowly, — 

" I loved Douglas when it was sin — I 
love him now when the chain is broken. 
Leicester Albany lies dead, burned, crushed 
beneath the ruins of the building his hands 
had fired." 

" Dead ! dead ! " Such a shriek of baffled 
fury rang out as made even those two 
shrink. "It is false ! false ! You will tell 
me next that you suspected me all through, 
as he declared, and that the man who takes 
my Jessie's inheritance will be again all he 
was, to mock me ! " 

*' He will," said Neville, speaking for the 
first time, and putting his hand on her to 
keep her down in her frantic rage ; " all 
these months he has been under my care, 



2 24 After the Fire. 

and will recover entirely. Lady Glen-Luna, 
for pity's sake, put aside all such — " 

She interrupted him with fierce raving 
once more, in which all her hatred of 
Douorlas and Gabrielle blazed forth. She 
saw now, she cried, how that woman had 
acted a part and played her false from the 
first — and won life and strength for Douglas 
— and he would wed her, while she was in 
torture ! And then the strength of mad 
delirium gave way again suddenly, and she 
sank down groaning in agony that no 
medical aid could assuage, which the marred 
form did not lose even in the sort of stupor 
that followed. 

"You must have rest, Gabrielle," said 
Chandos. "Go back to Douglas, and send 
Eose and Sir Arthur. Poor old man ! if we 
can only keep her share in this tragedy from 
him ! " 

" Shall I send her daughter ?" Mrs Albany 
asked, pausing. 

" She should be here," he answered ; 



After the Fire, 225 

V* she is sinking fast ; she will never speak 
again." 

Gabrielle left the room, but just outside 
Hyacinth was waiting, and she sent her to 
Jessie, while she herself went back to 
Douglas and his father. 

How haggard and stricken the poor old 
baronet looked now ; how her heart ached 
as she gave her message. It was the first 
time they had met since the fire, and, trying 
to speak, the father broke quite down ; he 
could only put his arms about her, and, 
bowing his grey head on her shoulder, 
with one choking sob mutter broken 
words. 

"I know all — you have saved my only 
son. I have no words, my child, my 
daughter." 

And then he went out — up to the 
chamber of death above — for she died in 
that stupor an hour later, and never spoke 
again. 

So in trouble and sorrow the sun uprose 

VOL. III. P 



226 



After the Fire. 



once more on the world, and the soft breeze 
rustled the leaves, and the birds sang in the 
lofty woods as blithely as if there were no 
ruins and death in the earth that God had 
made so fair. 




CHAPTER XIX. 



AWAY ABROAD. 




NLY a blackened mass of smoul- 
dering ruins where yesterday 
the west wing had stood ; but, 
happily perhaps for all, there was such abso- 
lute need for instant action, so much to be 
done, that there w^as, after very necessary 
refreshment and a couple of hours' rest, no 
time to think. 

For every reason it was, of course, now 
impossible for the travellers to leave for 
some days, and, in a brief consultation held 
between Sir Arthur — who bore his grief like 
the noble gentleman he was — his son, and 
Dr Neville and Mrs Albany, arrangements 



228 Away Abroad. 

were agreed upon. Telegrams were at once 
sent off to the master of the yacht with 
orders to be ready, as they would be all on 
board in a few days, and to Sir Arthur's 
lawyer, who, in reply, was down by twelve 
o'clock. The funeral of Lady Glen-Luna 
was then fixed for Saturday morning, and 
late that (Thursday) afternoon the inquest 
was held on all that remained of the once 
dashing " CliflPord Brandon," for by agree- 
ment the real identity was not revealed. 
He was identified as Clifibrd Brandon by 
Sir Arthur and Chandos Neville. The wife 
he had so foully wronged never saw him at 
all, and that night the cofiin was, under 
the lawyer, Mr. Grey's, superintendence, re- 
moved to London, and interred in a London 
cemetery. But on that cofiin, and subse- 
quently on the plain slab that marked the 
spot, the name of Leicester Albany was 
placed, with the date of his death. So his 
evil life passed out, and the place that knew 
him knew him no more. 



Away Abroad. 229 

Kind Lady Saltoun telegraphed the 
moment she heard the sad news for Jessie 
to be sent to them at once, and, as the poor 
girl was now really ill, her father and 
brother gratefully accepted the friendly in- 
vitation, and sent her away at once with 
Howell, the maid. 

In Doring, and, indeed, elsewhere, gossip 
about the cause of the fire was rampant ; 
but though Lady Glen-Lunas guilt re- 
mained a secret with those few who had 
heard her ravings, it was impossible to con- 
ceal Clifford Brandon's part in the crime, 
the motive being easily supplied by the late 
events regarding his marriage with Miss 
Glen-Luna ; of course it was revenge, and 
the intention had been to burn the whole 
of the old Hall ; and poor, dear Lady Glen- 
Luna had been burned in trying to warn 
those in the west wing. Is it not bitterly 
true that truth lies at the bottom of a well ? 
— a very deep well, too. 

In all this trouble, Hyacinth and her 



2-3 o Away Abroad. 

mother, as well as the two Nevilles, were 
invaluable, and Lady Constance was so 
softened towards Chandos, so moved by his 
quiet devotion, that she veered right round, 
like a good vessel brought up sharp into 
the wind's eye, and struck her colours to 
her daughter's lover. She told him so, 
frankly and earnestly, on that Sunday morn- 
ing as they walked back from St Agnes the 
Martyr's. It scarcely, she said, with tears 
in her eyes, seemed a time perhaps to speak 
of marrying and giving in marriage, but she 
had been so wrong, so mistaken, that she 
could not let them part so for many 
months ; he should leave England as Hya- 
cinth's affianced husband, and claim her 
whenever he returned. Such a brother and 
friend she knew could only be a true and 
noble husband to the woman he loved. 

So another "curse of Kehama" was 
turned into a blessing. 

That day also it was settled that the 
travellers — now, of course, with Sir Arthur 



A way Abroad. 2 3 1 

added to their party — must leave on Tues- 
day, the physician speaking very decidedly 
on the point, with a meaning glance at 
Douglas and his attendant. They had gone 
through so much that entire change was an 
immediate necessity, even if there had been, 
as before, proper accommodation for Dou- 
glas. The removal of the ruins and all else 
was left in Mr. Grey's charge. The re- 
buildino^ of the west wino; should be at- 
tended to later. 

** And when we come back, Mr. Douglas,** 
said Harford, the morning they left, " my 
long, deepest wish will be fulfilled, I know, 
as much as your father's." 

" What is that, Harford ? " 

The courier touched Gabrielle Albany, 
and answered quietly, — 

" That this noble woman should be your 
wife ; she is good enough even for you." 

" Oh, Harford, Harford ! It is I that am 
not half worthy of her." 

Harford smiled and stooped to pat the 



232 Away Abroad. 

dog. 'M wonder what Madame Gabrielle 
thinks," he said ; he had never called her 
"Mrs. Albany" since the fire, when he 
could possibly avoid it, and Gabrielle shook 
her head with a half sad smile ; nothing in 
her eyes was half good enough for Douglas 
Glen-Luna. 

So they travelled to London, and Lady 
Constance and Hyacinth Lee accompanied 
them right on board the beautiful yacht 
and down the river to the Nore. Then the 
parting came, but oh, how different to what 
it would have been ! And Gabrielle, stand- 
ing beside Glen-Luna's chair on the poop, 
said, as they watched the little boat take 
the Lees ashore, — 

'* Douglas, do you remember your words 
that night, * When I leave these rooms, 
whether I live or die, I shall never come 
back to them, never, never ' ? " 

"Ay, sweetheart; I little dreamed how 
terribly they were to be fulfilled. Ah, here 



Away Abroaa. 233 

comes the dear old father. Is not this my 
dream, too, Gabrielle, over the blue oceitn 
with you at my side — mine ? " 

" Surely, yes." 

And then they shut off steam, and, with 
a fair wind full in her quarter, the yacht 
spread her white wings and stood out to sea. 

So the weeks and months passed by, and 
letters came frequently from the tenants of 
the villa at the beautiful old German spa ; 
and news that confirmed Chandos Neville's 
medical expectation, that his patient would 
— had, in fact — reached a certain point, 
and would take a sudden leap, as it were, 
to recovery. 

" I am letting Douglas try his paces 
cautiously, dear Hyacinth," her lover wrote, 
a month after their arrival in the Vater- 
land, " and with each trial, each day, he 
gains beyond my utmost hopes ; of course, 
I had been preparing him for it for five 
months at Luna Park. In a few days he 



234 Away Abroad. 

will walk the length of the room just lean- 
ing on Gabrielle's shoulder, always on her ; 
it is touching to see that sight, Hyacinth." 
Later on he wrote, — 

"While I write this Douglas and Gab- 
rielle are slowly walking under the ver- 
andah — his light, firm step as of old, Har- 
ford says. I believe if the truth . were 
known, that man thanks God every morn- 
ing and night for that fire." 

" And so do I," muttered Hyacinth, de- 
fiantly. " I'm sure they all must in their 
secret hearts. What more does my old 
dear say ? " 

" We had a letter from Jessie and kind 
Lady Saltoun, from which we gather that 
Fred Saltoun has taken a fancy to Miss 
Glen-Luna. It would be the best possible 
thing for all parties, I am sure. Sir Arthur 
is delighted, and Douglas smiles oddly and 
strokes his silky moustache as he says, 
* Ach,ja wohU' 

So the months roll on into the past. 



CHAPTEE XX. 

THE TALES OF OUR TRAVELLERS ARE FINISHED 
AT LAST. 




England, 



Sir 



ETTERS from 
Arthur." 

Harford came out into the 
verandah of the villa, from the lovely 
gardens of which there is such a view of 
the quaint old German town, and fine 
scenery bathed now in the glorious mid- 
summer sun. The baronet. Sister Rose — 
dear Sister Rose sans epine, with her sweet 
face and tender smile, were seated on a 
pretty bamboo bench, Chandos Neville 
leaning against a marble vase close by 
looking through the Tagehlatt. 



236 The Tales of our Travellers, etc, 

"Letters!" exclaimed Sir Arthur eagerly, 
** who for, Harford ? — who for ? " 

''Four for you, Sir Arthur," handing 
them from the salver, " two for Miss Eose, 
half-a-dozen for you, sir, as usual," added 
Harford, smiling respectfully as Chandos 
laughed, *' and several for the master and 
Mrs Glen-Luna." 

" Where on earth have they got to, 
Harford ? I heard my boy's voice long 
ago on the lawn, talking to Angus. Oh, 
dear, oh, dear, I suppose he has taken off 
his wife for a walk before breakfast again, 
and he'll overdo it ; eh, Chandos ? " 

The physician smiled and shook his head. 

" Not now, Sir Arthur, it is full nine 
months since we left England." 

" And five since their marriage," added 
Sister Rose ; " doesn't the time fly fast ? " 

"There they are, all three!" said 
Neville, pointing towards the broad high- 
road leading down into the town. 

They saw them plainly, dog and mistress 



The Tales of our Travellers, etc, 237 

and master, lost for a few minutes behind 
the trees, and then the gate below the 
lawn opened, Angus bounded forwards, and 
they hear the soft, sweet tone — 

** Not tired one bit, sweetheart ; how 
could I be, with thee at my side ? " 

And then the tall, graceful form we have 
seen so helpless comes swinging up the 
lawn with a light, firm tread, and a new 
light in the handsome face, as he bends to 
whisper some lover-like word to the beautiful 
woman at his side that makes her smile and 
colour too, and then as he bounds forward 
like a deer to his father s side, revelling in 
his regained strength, the tears fill her 
eyes and her lips quiver. To her there 
is an intense pathos in that very revelling, 
for in it lies the retrospect, the story of 
his past sufferings. 

" I am so sorry we are late, dear father," 
she said, tenderly kissing the old man's 
forehead, "but you must not scold my 
husband." 



238 The Tales of our Travellers, etc, 

*' I think we won't scold anyone," said 
gentle Sister Rose, " but have some break- 
fast, and read our letters." 

"Sister Rose, thou hast the right always," 
said Douglas, offering her his hand to lead 
her within the sunny room, and Gabrielle 
Glen-Luna added wickedly, — 

'* Sister Rose knows that some one has a 
letter from the sweetest Hyacinth that ever 
grew." 

" So there is, Mrs Douglas Glen-Luna, 
in answer to mine, I have no doubt." 

" And look here," said Sir Arthur, looking 
brightly up, " here is one from Jessie and 
young Fred and Sir George Saltoun, all to 
one point — papa's consent. What say you, 
Douglas ? " 

The words this time were so at once in 
each mind that Douglas, sitting by his 
wife, dropped his hand with a tender action 
on her shoulder as he answered, — 

" I say * yes,' father, from my heart." 

" So do I, dear boy, and it will chime in 



The Tales of our Travellers, etc. 239 

well with this autocrat's plans," touching 
Neville ; " let's see, what are they exactly, 
Chandos ? " 

*' Why, Sir Arthur, now that Douglas is 
out of the wood, I order, as a final safety, 
a yachting cruise for three months, then 
travel till the spring in all the warm 
corners of the Continent they like." 

" And then ? " said Douglas. 

" Why, bring that beautiful wife of yours 
home to take the London world by storm, 
Mr Impudence, and yourself, too." 

" And fulfil your promise in toioT 

" What was that ? " 

"Well, I drive my blood-horses long 
since, certainly, M. le Medecin, but you 
said I should drive Gabrielle on the box- 
seat of my four-in-hand." 

" So you shall, most puissant signor, 
next season," answered Neville, laughing ; 
" meanwhile, Kose and I will go back, 
and—" 

"Change sweet Hyacinth's name. Oh, 



240 The Tales of our Travellers, etc. 

Chandos, it is a shame that you would 
not let me send you away before this." 

" Hush, Douglas ; if you only knew the 
happiness it is to me to see you restored 
to strength ! " 

" I think I do know, Chandos," said 
Douglas, very softly, and clasped the 
other's hand in his own. 

So it was settled, and that Sir Arthur 
should return to England with them, to 
be at Jessie's marriage. Parting was a 
trial ; but Sir Arthur, as he clasped Gab- 
rielle in his arms, said, — 

" My child, it was of you I thought, of 
you I hoped, when I said I looked one 
day to call my son's wife daughter, and 
hold a son of hers in these old arms." 

" Father, I knew that, then." 



There is great rejoicing that next season 
in the London heau monde, for it has 
recovered not onlv its former brilliant 



The Tales of our Travellers^ etc. 241 

favourite, by it seemed almost a miracle of 
science had gained in his beautiful wife — 
the heroine of that not-forgotten night — a 
reigning queen of society ; not to know 
the Glen-Lunas was to argue yourself out 
of the elite circle ; not to admire the 
beauty of their little son a crime, with the 
ladies ; not to have witnessed that meet of 
the Four-in - Hand Club, when Douglas 
Glen - Luna, with his most magnificent 

team of thorough-breds in hand, and his 

• 

beautiful wife at his side, led off, was to 
have missed a sight indeed — not to know 
them and the matchless Arabs they rode 
was simply to admit that you did not 
live, but merely existed. Even lovely- 
Mrs Neville {nee Lee), wife to the well- 
known physician, shone a secondary light 
beside Mrs Glen-Luna. 



One more picture ! of a rich, golden 
autumn day, and a noble park and a 

VOL. III. Q 



242 The Tales of our Travellers, etc. 

stately old hall rising up amongst the 
forest giants, and looking as if the ances- 
tral walls could smile on the fine west 
wing that had risen up where the fire had 
laid waste ; of a grey-haired old man wel- 
coming a gay party of guests that are 
gathered in the ancestral halls, and a 
faithful servant who stands near him 
proudly holding his master's little son in 
his arms, as he watches them all as if in 
a dream. Sweet Sister Eose, who has a 
smile for each and all, and carries " Peace 
on earth " in golden letters on her pure 
brow ; Chandos Neville and Hyacinth, 
more saucy than ever as she looks at her 
mother and laughs ; and last, but not 
least, the noble dog, and beside him, 
brilliant, handsome Douglas Glen-Luna, 
and the wife he loves so passionately, so 
deeply, whose smile is to him more than 
all the world. 

'' Ah, darling wife, heart of my heart," 
he whispers, drawing her to his breast, 



The Tales of our Travellers, etc. 243 

when for a minute they are alone, "if we 
must sometimes look back, let it be only 
to know to our heart's core that, hand in 
hand, and heart linked to heart, we tread 
no more on dangerous ground." 



THE END. 



COLSTON AND SON, PRINTERS, KDINBUBGH. 



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